After having Monday off, the Washington Nationals kicked off the last leg of their west coast road trip with a fireworks show, trading runs deep into the night with Colorado. Neither starter – Jordan Zimmerann for the Nationals, David Hale for the Rockies – had their best stuff, and both offenses put on a clinic. In the end, though, the Nationals broke things open in the top of the eighth and were able to put an end to their six game losing streak with a 15-6 victory
The game began as a back-and-forth affair, and the Nationals struck first. With two outs in the top of the first, Bryce Harper drew a walk, and Yunel Escobar brought him around to score on a two-run homer to right center to give the Nats an early 2-0 lead.
But Jordan Zimmermann was unable to hold that lead, surrendering the next four runs. The first three came in the bottom of the first frame. Jose Reyes led off with a single, and two batters later the Nats’ old nemesis, Carlos Gonzalez, blasted a towering two-run shot to left field. Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado followed with a double. After moving to third on a groundout, he would score on a fielding error by Ian Desmond to give the Rockies a 3-2 advantage. Colorado would stretch the lead to 4-2 in the second on a solo shot by Reyes.
Then, it was Washington’s turn to string together runs. In the top of the third, Danny Espinosa doubled with one out, which was followed by Bryce Harper‘s second walk of the night. Yunel Escobar knocked in his third run of the game with a single to center to cut the deficit to one. With Bryce Harper on third, Ian Desmond followed with an infield single that traveled all of 40 feet, which allowed Harper to score and tie the game.
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The Nationals would take their second lead of the night in the following inning. With two outs, Jayson Werth managed a single. He would score from first when Danny Espinosa hit a double into the right field corner that just caught the edge of the chalk to remain fair. Through four innings, the Nationals led 5-4.
In the top of the fifth, Ian Desmond singled with one out before advancing to second on a pitch that bounced in front of the plate. After Ryan Zimmerman drew a walk, Desmond advanced to third on a fly out by Michael Taylor. He would score on a wild pitch by Hale to push the Nats advantage to two runs.
Colorado would get one back in the bottom of the frame. DJ LeMahieu hit what should have been a single into right field. Bryce Harper tried to throw him out at first. Instead, the throw sailed up the line, and with Wilson Ramos still standing behind home plate, LeMahieu was able to take second. He would come around to score on a two-out double by Arenado.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Rockies would strike again. Kyle Parker led off the inning with a solo home run to left field to make the score 6-6. Fortunately, Jordan Zimmermann was able to keep from surrendering any more damage.
That allowed the Nationals to take the lead back in the following inning. Escobar started the rally by drawing a one-out walk. After Ian Desmond struck out, Ryan Zimmerman drew a walk to put runners on first and second with two down. Once again, Michael Taylor came through with runners in scoring position. He singled to left field, Escobar scored, and the Nats led again, this time 7-6.
After Felipe Rivero and Casey Janssen worked a scoreless seventh, the Nationals would tack on plenty of insurance runs in the top of the eighth off of Rockies reliever Tommy Kahnle. Clint Robinson led off with a walk, followed by a double by Jayson Werth. Robinson would come in to score on a sac fly by Danny Espinosa, and Jayson Werth would then come in on a wild pitch. After another walk, Kahnle was replaced by Scott Oberg, who let the Nats add another run on a ground ball out by Ian Desmond. Ryan Zimmerman then got in on the action to make it 11-6.
From there, Drew Storen was able to work out of trouble in the eighth, and the Nationals offense hung a few more runs on the board for good measure in the top of the ninth. Espinosa singled between a pair of walks from Werth and Harper before Escobar and Desmond singled and doubled to bring the score up to 14-6. A Ryan Zimmerman sac fly added another run.
With the big lead, Tanner Roark was called on to pitch the ninth. He allowed a leadoff double, but after that he was able to retire the next three batters, and the Nationals walked away with a 15-6 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field.
The win moves Washington back to .500 on the season at 59-59, though they failed to pick up any ground on the Mets, who won in Baltimore. Tomorrow, the Nationals will continue their series against the Rockies as Stephen Strasburg (6-6, 4.62 ERA) heads to the mound to face off against Jorge De La Rosa (7-5, 4.75 ERA). You can catch the game on MASN2 at 8:40 PM ET.
- Matt Williams continues to constantly rearrange his lineup in an attempt to find something that works. This time, it was Jayson Werth leading off, most likely because Werth tends to see a lot of pitches. It seemed to work, as the Nats offense came to life and Werth went 2-for-5 with a walk to pull his average up to .190.
- Jordan Zimmermann did just enough to keep the Nationals in the game, due mostly to the fact that the offense was hitting on all cylinders. The final line for Zimmermann was largely unimpressive (six innings pitched, nine hits, six runs (four earned runs), one walk, and six strikeouts), though it didn’t help that Ian Desmond was there to pick up another error.
- Bryce Harper had four walks (FOUR!) in this game as the Rockies refused to let the Nats biggest threat beat them. That strategy proved pretty ineffective, but it goes to show what other teams think of the Nats star.
- While Tuesday’s offensive production was fun to watch, what’s more important is that the Nationals are able to build off of their momentum. The Nats have had breakout games, but they’ve been few and far between. Now, they need to string games like this together.