Apr 19, 2014, 3:50 PM EST
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Facing a team that has had their way with him in the past, Jordan Zimmermann pitched well enough against St. Louis to give the Nationals a chance to win on Saturday. But again, as they did two nights ago, the Nats committed defensive mistakes early in the game that cost them.
This time it was a throwing error by Anthony Rendon that helped lead to three unearned runs in the second inning. Jayson Werth also just barely missed a ball hit by pitcher Lance Lynn later in the frame that allowed a runner to score.
Zimmermann himself was solid with only one earned run through seven innings. The Nationals just shot themselves in the foot, once again giving up a significant lead in the early innings. It has become a trend this season, and this time they weren’t able to complete the comeback.
The Nationals’ three runs came on a Danny Espinosa solo home run in the fifth, an RBI double by Rendon in the eighth and a fielder’s choice groundball by Kevin Frandsen in the ninth.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Espinosa’s solo home run in the bottom of the fifth was his first smash since May 5, 2013. That’s almost an entire calendar year that featured him losing the starting job at second base, going to the disabled list and getting demoted to Triple-A.
PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Zimmermann pitched an excellent game despite taking the loss. He finished with one earned run through seven innings on seven hits, two walks and six strikeouts. After today’s start, Zimmermann is now 1-1 with a 3.92 ERA on the season through four outings.
DEFENSIVE LOWLIGHT: Though Rendon has looked very good at third base since moving there after Ryan Zimmerman’s injury, he made a throwing error in the second inning that was Zimmerman-esque. On a double play attempt he sailed the ball to Espinosa’s right at second base, and put Zimmermann in a situation with two on and one out. One at-bat later, Tony Cruz drove both runners home on a single, and Lynn then doubled home a third run. By the end of the second the Nats were down 3-0 and all three runs were unearned.
KEY STAT: The Nationals have now been outscored 39-12 in the first two innings through 18 games this year.
UP NEXT: The Nats and Cardinals finish off their four-game series with a 1:35 p.m. start at Nationals Park on Sunday afternoon. Stephen Strasburg (1-2, 6.00) will take the ball for his fifth start of the season, while Shelby Miller (1-2, 4.67) will start for St. Louis.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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