Apr 9, 2014, 3:27 PM EST
Ryan Zimmerman, as promised, is back in the Nationals’ lineup. And he’s back at third base, hoping to battle his way through a bad shoulder by altering his throwing motion, dipping down to go sidearm all the time after committing two painful errors throwing overhand last week. Whether this experiment works remains to be seen. Certainly everyone in the ballpark will be holding their breath the first time a ball is hit in Zim’s direction tonight.
Zimmermann is hitting fifth tonight, which seems to be where Matt Williams prefers his slugger. Bryce Harper, on the other hand, has been bumped all the way down to seventh. That’s a reflection both of Harper’s continued struggles (he’s now 4-for-25 on the season) and the fact left-hander Brad Hand is the Marlins’ surprise starter.
Right-hander Jacob Turner was supposed to get the ball tonight for Miami, but he injured himself taking batting practice yesterday. So in steps Hand, who has started in the past but was working out of the bullpen to open the season.
Updates to come…
MIAMI MARLINS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, XM 85, MLB.com
Weather: Clear, 60 degrees, Wind 9 mph LF to RF
CF Denard Span
2B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
3B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Ian Desmond
LF Bryce Harper
C Jose Lobaton
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
LF Christian Yelich
2B Derek Dietrich
RF Giancarlo Stanton
1B Garrett Jones
3B Casey McGehee
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
CF Marcell Ozuna
SS Adeiny Hechavarria
LHP Brad Hand
HP Dan Bellino
1B D.J. Reyburn
2B Toby Basner
3B Jeff Kellogg (cc)
7:06 p.m. — And we’re underway as Jordan Zimmermann fires strike one to Christian Yelich.
7:24 p.m. — That wasn’t particularly pretty for Zimmermann, who got ambushed by the top of the Marlins’ lineup. Yelich singled to left. Derek Dietrich drew a walk. Giancarlo Stanton crushed the first pitch he saw up the middle for an RBI single. And Garrett Jones sent the very next pitch deep enough to center to score Dietrich. So just like that, the Nats are in a 2-0 hole and Zimmermann is facing an uphill battle, having already thrown 34 pitches.
7:56 p.m. — And things only got worse for Zimmermann in the second. He served up a leadoff triple to Adeiny Hechavarria, then a homer to Dietrich that initially was ruled a triple but was overturned on replay, with the ball clearly striking the metal railing above the fence in right-center. Add two more singles, and Matt Williams incredibly came out to take the ball from Zimmermann after only 1 2/3 innings. That makes this the shortest start of his career. His velocity appeared to be fine. His command, though, was all over the place. It’s 5-0 Marlins, and now the Nats need seven more innings from their bullpen, starting with Craig Stammen.
8:06 p.m. — The Nats lineup, meanwhile, hasn’t done anything so far against Brad Hand. Anthony Rendon’s swinging bunt single in the bottom of the first is all they have to show for their efforts through two innings. Bryce Harper struck out in his first at-bat of the night, and is now 4-for-26 on the season.
8:13 p.m. — Hey, it’s Ryan Zimmerman’s first throwing assist of the night! Sort of. He dove and deflected a ball to Ian Desmond, who then fired to first base for the out. Moments later, Zim did legitimately notch his first real assist of the night, ranging to his left and then uncorking a pinpoint sidearm throw for the out. Still 5-0 Marlins in the bottom of the third.
8:35 p.m. — Nice job, as is so often the case, by Stammen in long relief. He had to pitch out of a jam in the fourth, striking out both Stanton and Jones with a man on the third. The guy just goes out there and gets the job done, no matter his role, no matter how much is asked from him on a given night. Still 5-0 Marlins, heading to the bottom of the fourth.
8:55 p.m. — Sweet Fancy Moses! Bryce Harper just snapped out of his slump in a huge way, destroying a pitch way up into the third deck down the right-field line. It landed five rows up, much farther than Adam LaRoche’s similar shot the other night. The umps convened and used replay to determine for sure if it was fair or foul (the review was inconclusive, so the call stood). What an at-bat for Harper, though. He fouled off five pitches in a row at one point, six total, during a 10-pich at-bat against a lefty. That’s the one that could get Bryce going. It’s 5-3 Marlins now after four.
9:10 p.m. — Lots of action for Zimmerman in the top of the fifth. He made an awkward throw to just barely get Casey McGehee at first base, then made a fantastic throw that just narrowly missed getting Adeiny Hechavarria. After all that, it’s still 5-3 Miami, with Stammen having tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief.
9:16 p.m. — The Nats keep chipping away. Rendon tripled with one out in the bottom of the fifth, raising his season average to a cool .433. He then scored on Werth’s groundball to third. So it’s 5-4 now heading to the sixth, with Ross Detwiler in from the Nats pen.
9:52 p.m. — And now the Nats have come all the way back to take the lead. Zimmerman doubled, took third when Stanton bobbled the ball in the right-field corner and scored on Desmond’s little roller to third. Harper delivered another hit off a left-hander, this one an opposite-field single. And the go-ahead run scored when Jose Lobaton’s comebacker bounced off reliever Dan Jennings. I’m going to guess that never happened last year. It’s 6-5 Nats and Drew Storen is in for the seventh.
10:02 p.m. — That didn’t last long. Storen immediately served up a homer to Saltalamacchia. So it’s 6-6 now at the stretch. Long way to go still.
10:32 p.m. — And now Tyler Clippard gives up the go-ahead run. A pair of walks, as they always do, came back to bite him, with Jones’ double off first base bringing home the run that puts the Marlins up 7-6 as we now head to the bottom of the eighth.
10:47 p.m. — Jayson Werth. Carlos Marmol. Bases loaded. Do I need to tell what happened next? It’s 10-7 Nats and Rafael Soriano is entering for the save.
11:02 p.m. — Ballgame. Nats win a wild one, 10-7, after Soriano brings the tying run to the plate in the ninth.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
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