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Game 154: Marlins at Nats

Sep 20, 2013, 3:28 PM EST

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

Well, we’ve reached the final stretch, the Nationals’ last hope of pulling off a miraculous, late-season surge into the postseason. There are nine games to go. They trail the Reds by five games in the NL Wild Card standings, the Pirates by six games. Everybody plays the same number of games the rest of the way, on the same days.

And two things have to happen for the Nats to do this: 1) They have to win almost every single night, and 2) Either the Reds or Pirates have to lose a bunch of games, likely to the other. Cincinnati opens a 3-game series at PNC Park tonight, and if you’re a Nationals fan, your best bet is to root for a Pirates sweep. However, if the Reds were to win the first couple of games, your allegiance would need to flip over to Cincinnati. (I know, it’s a bit complicated.)

First things first. The Nationals need to beat the Marlins again. They’re 7-0 against them at home this season, and they’ll probably need to make it 10-0 to have a realistic shot at this thing. So it’s up to Jordan Zimmermann tonight to keep the momentum going, and perhaps earn his league-leading 19th win in the process.

Updates to come, so please check back…

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 184
Weather: Clear, 75 degrees, Wind 9 mph RF to LF

CF Denard Span
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
LF Bryce Harper
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
2B Anthony Rendon
RHP Jordan Zimmermann

MARLINS (56-97)
Lineup TBA
RHP Jacob Turner

HP Brian O’Nora
1B Fieldin Culbreth
2B Adrian Johnson
3B Bill Welke

7:05 p.m. — We are underway on a gorgeous Friday night in the District. The Nationals have a new patch on their jerseys, which they’ll wear for the rest of the season. It’s a navy blue circle on the upper left chest, with gold lettering that reads: “Navy Yard, 9.16.13” underneath the curly W logo. Nice touch.

7:09 p.m. — Wow, what a first inning for Jordan Zimmermann. He retired the side on nine pitches, eight of them strikes. He struck out both Chris Coghlan and Giancarlo Stanton, the latter on three pitches. Impressive.

7:21 p.m. — If Zimmermann’s first inning was impressive, what was his second inning? Holy moly, he just struck out the side, giving him five consecutive strikeouts. He’s retired all six batters he’s faced, and he’s combining a 95 mph fastball with a nasty, upper-80s slider so far. Dominant stuff from the right-hander. Scoreless as we go to the bottom of the second.

7:29 p.m. — Uh, what exactly was Wilson Ramos thinking when, after singling to center with two outs in the bottom of the second, he tried to take second base behind the throw to third? Adam LaRoche certainly didn’t know what Ramos was thinking, because he gave his teammate the stink eye after Ramos was easily thrown out, killing a potential rally. Weird. Still scoreless after two.

7:35 p.m. — Make it 9 up and 9 down for Zimmermann, who has six strikeouts and hasn’t let a ball leave the infield yet. He’s thrown 27-of-36 pitches for strikes. He’s efficient, he’s filthy and he’s dominant so far.

7:55 p.m. — Well, the Marlins did get a baserunner against Zimmermann in the fourth when Giancarlo Stanton drew a two-out walk. But Zimmermann has yet to allow a hit. And he’s now got eight strikeouts through four scoreless innings. He. Is. On.

8:03 p.m. — Not to be overlooked, Jacob Turner is dealing for the Marlins. He’s through four scoreless innings, having scattered three hits and a walk. Still 0-0 here.

8:10 p.m. — Make it five hitless innings for Zimmermann, who got an assist from Anthony Rendon in the top of the fifth. Rendon went to his right to make a nice, sliding play on Ed Lucas’ sharp grounder. Zimmermann is now at 67 pitches, 49 strikes. Still 0-0.

8:21 p.m. — Well, there goes the no-hitter. Donovan Solano, aka “The Shallot” lined a clean single over Desmond’s head with two outs in the sixth for the Marlins’ first base hit of the night off Zimmermann. That’s all they got, though, as Jordan continues to cruise. Now, if the Nats could just score, you know, a run.

8:51 p.m. — Well that kind of escalated quickly. Really quickly. The Nats just scored — yes, SEVEN — runs in the bottom of the sixth, turning what had been a scoreless game into a blowout. They sent 11 men to the plate, notched seven hits and a walk, got RBIs from Werth, Harper, Ramos, Rendon and Span and basically made mincemeat of the previously untouchable Jacob Turner and reliever Chris Hatcher. It’s now 7-0 as Zimmermann takes the mound for the top of the seventh, with just a bit of a cushion to work with.

9:12 p.m. — Make it 8-0 as the Nats keep piling on and Zimmermann keeps chugging along. Meanwhile, Jayson Werth has been pulled after the seventh, with Corey Brown taking over in right field.

9:20 p.m. — We go to the ninth, and Zimmermann will take the mound seeking his second career, 1-hit shutout.

9:28 p.m. — That it. Zimmermann goes the distance and the Nats win 8-0. The Reds trail 5-2 in Pittsburgh. The deficit is 4 1/2 for now, but it could be 4 shortly.

  1. Section 222 - Sep 20, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    If Davey leaves JZnn in too long in order to try and “give him a chance” to get the win, like letting him bat when a pinch hitter is really necessary, or takes him out too early because he doesn’t want him to lose, he should be fired. Oh wait, there are only eight games after tonight. Well, anyway, that would be really, really stupid. Kill the win!

    • Candide - Sep 20, 2013 at 4:15 PM

      In a similar vein, the Nats can’t revert to their months-long habit of getting a few runs early and then shutting down the rest of the game. They had the Braves at the point of a meltdown in the 5th inning Wednesday night. Instead of throwing gasoline on their opponents and torching them, they let the Braves get away with allowing only two runs in that inning. Result: Atlanta comes back to win the game. We’ve seen that all season long; it’s almost like they’re too afraid or too gentlemanly to pile on the runs.

      When you have your boot on their throat, that’s not the time to keep the pressure on. It’s the time to stomp hard.

      • Candide - Sep 20, 2013 at 4:20 PM

        BTW, 222, Cunegonde and I will be in 209 tonight – a last-minute decision. I’ll be listening for the 313 guys to start the NATSNATSNATS-WOOO! cheer and will do the cheerleading from 209. Gotta make this thing go viral.

      • tcostant - Sep 20, 2013 at 4:22 PM

        Candide – here here. They like to score an earlier run and then hold on for dear life. Score offen!!!

      • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 20, 2013 at 4:31 PM

        Exactly, Candide. The Nats have sometimes reminded me of Terry Holland’s UVa basketball teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Too often they seemed to have an opponent on the ropes, then let them back into the game. Too gentlemanly, as you suggest. Dean Smith’s Carolina teams never appeared to have that problem.

      • Dave - Sep 20, 2013 at 5:30 PM

        Candide, the 313 cheering section will be waving hats up and down, like an orchestra conductor, to start the cheer.

        I won’t be there tonight (or anymore this weekend, alas); when I’m there I tend to be the main hat-waver. However, I sat in 220 last night and was completely able to follow the cheer from a different level and 7 sections away. Since we did it three times on one homer, the section caught on quite nicely by the third cheer.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 20, 2013 at 6:19 PM

        Indeed, “Hear! Hear!”

        Oyez, oyez!

  2. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 20, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    While I’m dubious of the concept of ‘momentum’ in baseball — particularly the notion that it could carry over from one season to the next — I nevertheless believe that an individual player’s self-confidence and a team’s collective self-image (i.e., ‘we’re winners’) can be important. For that reason, I’ve always assumed that the 2011 Nats’ strong finish (17-10 in September) contributed to their fast start in 2012. Thus, regardless of what happens over the coming days with the second Wild Card spot, I’m hoping the Nats can continue their strong finish to this season. Tom Boswell wrote a column in the first half of the season in which he talked about the Nats’ long-term plan being measured over multiple seasons. I can accept this season’s disappointments — call it a sophomore slump — if the team learns from it and keeps moving forward next year. So, for now, just keep playing hard and winning as many games as you can until they tell you to stop playing and go home. Like mom used to do when it got too dark to see. GYFNG!

  3. NatsLady - Sep 20, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    Got new-posted, put some comments about Davey’s management in the previous thread. Don’t have time to copy them over here. Off to the game, GO NATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Section 222 - Sep 20, 2013 at 5:17 PM

      Interesting thoughts NL. The Nats have been blown out so often this year that I’m not surprised we’re outperforming our Pythagorean expected record. Actually it’s surprising we’re only three games ahead of it.

  4. David Proctor - Sep 20, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    Davey just said that Strasburg passed his throwing test and is good to start tomorrow.

  5. Section 222 - Sep 20, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    Candide, I’ll be back in 314 tonight. and hope there will be lost of NATS NATS NATS cheers. From 215 last night, it was impossible to see folks start the cheer upstairs, and very hard to hear anything. Plus, I have to say, people down in the club seem to generally not be as into the game pitch by pitch as those in the IG. Sure, they cheer the big plays but there seems to be some intensity missing. Or maybe last night was just an off night.

    • Dave - Sep 20, 2013 at 5:32 PM

      But Deuces, see my comment above about the cheer. Fortunately for me, section 220 (my other section when I’m not in 313) has a good view of 313. You can’t see the cheerleaders from behind home plate if you’re downstairs, but if you’re down the baselines a bit you can see them just fine.

      I’ll listen for you guys on TV.

    • Dave - Sep 20, 2013 at 5:34 PM

      PS, I completely agree with you about the Club Level versus the Infield Gallery. As I said, we have portions of season tickets in 220 (comfy seats, sheltered, access to Stars & Stripes) and 313 (hard seats, more crowded, completely exposed to the rain).

      My wife likes the comfort of 220, but I vastly prefer to sit upstairs in 313. The IG sections behind home plate are all full of real fans, from “game announcer Bob” over in 310, all the way over to 315, who join in on the cheer.

      Infield Gallery is where it’s at!

  6. David Proctor - Sep 20, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    Braves won today, making their magic number 1. Let’s win and make them have to wait at least one more day.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 20, 2013 at 6:24 PM

      I’ll second that suggestion.

  7. David Proctor - Sep 20, 2013 at 6:48 PM

    Kilgore just reported that if the Nats had not gone on this run, Davey Johnson would’ve stepped down to give Randy Knorr and/or Trent Jewett a shot to audition.

    • Jw - Sep 20, 2013 at 7:01 PM

      Not exactly. Kilgore reported that Davey would have OFFERED to step down. Rizzo likely would have declined that offer, just like he declined Davey’s offer to fire him instead of Eckstein.

      • David Proctor - Sep 20, 2013 at 7:03 PM

        Good catch. That’s an important distinction. Although with nothing left to play for, do you think Rizzo still would’ve turned him down?

  8. natsfan1a - Sep 20, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    Go, Z’nn! Go, NATS!!

  9. David Proctor - Sep 20, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    That was a dominant inning…

    • thecynicin408 - Sep 20, 2013 at 7:15 PM

      Turner pretty much matched it. Are we in for a 1 – 0 game that’s done in 1:55?

      • David Proctor - Sep 20, 2013 at 7:16 PM

        As long as we have the 1, that’s fine by me.

  10. David Proctor - Sep 20, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    Why would you go to second, Ramos? You’re slow.

  11. dcwx61 - Sep 20, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    must be redskins season or all remaining fans are at the game

    the times they are a changing

  12. David Proctor - Sep 20, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    This might be the best JZimm has ever looked and that’s saying something. Adam Kilgore tweeted that is like his NLDS Game 4 relief appearance except for a full game.

  13. thecynicin408 - Sep 20, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    JZimm is certainly pitching effectively. Now the hitters need to get him some run support.

  14. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 20, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    Let’s go Pirates!!!!! Come on Nats!!!!

  15. slidell2 - Sep 20, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    Someone needs to get serious here and hit a dinger.

  16. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 20, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    About time. Now add some more.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 20, 2013 at 8:32 PM

      That’s one. How about another one or two?

      • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 20, 2013 at 8:42 PM

        Exactly. Thank you, Nats.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 20, 2013 at 8:49 PM

        And again and again.

  17. slidell2 - Sep 20, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    In this case, a double will do.

    • slidell2 - Sep 20, 2013 at 8:31 PM

      two will do even better

    • thecynicin408 - Sep 20, 2013 at 8:35 PM

      A string of hits. This is good to see.

      Slidell2, does your name refer to
      Slidell, Louisiana?

      • slidell2 - Sep 20, 2013 at 8:37 PM

        No; Slidell Rd.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 20, 2013 at 8:43 PM

        That’s what I always thought, too.

  18. dcwx61 - Sep 20, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    These crazy sobs think they can make it

    they may be right, i may be crazy

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 20, 2013 at 8:43 PM

      Hell, I must be crazy too…. Becuz I know they can!! :)

  19. David Proctor - Sep 20, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    Man, Ramos is slow!

  20. Dave - Sep 20, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    Hey, people at the game: on TV it’s obvious that WAY more people are spelling NATS NATS NATS than just section 313! Great work!

  21. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 20, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    They are battig around this inning!!! I love it!

  22. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 20, 2013 at 9:11 PM

    So…. Once we win tonight and the reds lose, the number goes to 4, right???

  23. Dave - Sep 20, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    Yes, Mrsb. And if the Pirates win tonight, they must keep winning.

  24. dcwx61 - Sep 20, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    Its all right Ma, they’re only winning

  25. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 20, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    Great game for J Zimmermann…

  26. Steady Eddie - Sep 20, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    Even apart from the Pirates long drought, much better it’s the Pirates that win out over the Reds than vice versa. The Pirates entered this game a game ahead of the Reds which is one more game for us to make up in very few.

    Lithuania just got out of the eighth at 94 pitches, still up 5-2. Heart of the Reds order in the 9th — Votto, Ludwick, Bruce.

  27. dcwx61 - Sep 20, 2013 at 9:29 PM


  28. Steady Eddie - Sep 20, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    Stupid autocorrect., turning Liriano into Lithuania.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 20, 2013 at 9:51 PM

      awesome auto correct function!

  29. Dave - Sep 20, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    Where’s Julie A. the last couple games?





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