Washington Nationals Rapid Reactions: Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant Highlight Wild Night At Wrigley

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May 26, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) throws against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Zimmermann and Hendricks Silence Top Offenses

 The Nationals and Cubs are two of the top five teams in runs scored in the National League this month. Coming into last night, the Nats did not have one player who had seen Kyle Hendricks before. The 25-year old right-hander took full advantage of that.

Through the first five innings, the Nationals only had two hits against Hendricks. Those hits were an infield single by Denard Span in the third, which Starlin Castro saved from being an RBI single,  and a base hit by Tyler Moore in the fifth inning. The problem was Washington did not get many chances against Hendricks.

Even when they did, those innings would end quickly. Washington grounded into two double plays and were fooled all night by Hendricks’ sinker and changeup that he placed down and away from opposing hitters. While Bryce Harper would eventually homer off him in the seventh, Hendricks had enough command on his stuff to keep his team in the game. Hehas 13 ground ball outs in the no-decision.

As for Jordan Zimmermann, he struggled right out of the gate for the second straight outing. In the bottom of the first inning, Dexter Fowler hit a 2-2 fastball over the right field wall for a home run. Last season, Zimmermann allowed seven earned runs in the first inning for the whole season. This year, he has allowed six runs in the first and there’s four months left in the season.

Even though the Cubs hitters were able to drive Zimmermann’s pitch count up all night, including a ten pitch at-bat by Hendricks in the fourth that resulted in a walk, the Nationals right-hander was able to get out of multiple jams to keep his team in the game. In fact, the Cubs were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position before Russell’s double in the ninth.

Zimmermann struck out five batters over seven innings with four of those K’s coming in the final three innings of his outing. The one inning that stood out was the fifth when he struck out the side against Fowler, Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo. In the seventh, with Zimmermann at 110 pitches, he still found a way to strike out Fowler with a runner on second. All in all, it was another quality start for Zimmermann, but the bullpen could not get him a win.

Next: Harper And Bryant Hit Home Runs