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Instant analysis: Nats 7, Phillies 0

Jun 3, 2014, 9:48 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The familiar sight of Ryan Zimmerman taking the field for the Nationals for the first time in 7 1/2 weeks surely was comforting to his teammates, manager and the crowd of 25,291. The unfamiliar sight of him taking his position not at third base, but in left field for the first time in his career, drew plenty of odd looks and moments of wonder. But then Zimmerman did what he really does best — deliver some clutch hits — and ultimately helped lead his team to a blowout victory.

Zimmerman went 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI in his return from a fractured right thumb. He successfully fielded the only two balls hit his way in left field (a pair of flyballs). And he brought punch to a Nationals lineup that finally is starting to heat up. Jayson Werth drove in two runs with a bases-loaded double. Ian Desmond and Anthony Rendon each homered in the sixth to put the game out of reach and give the Nats their 26th run in their last 19 innings against any pitcher not named Yu Darvish.

Jordan Zimmermann took care of the rest. The right-hander tossed eight scoreless innings, scattering five hits and barely breaking a sweat on a warm, muggy night in the District. And so a Nationals club that finally is getting healthy is also starting to play good all-around baseball. This team has now won 3 of 4, all three wins in blowout fashion, and is back at the .500 mark with a 28-28 record.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Forget about all the discussion of his defensive prowess. Let’s not forget that Zimmerman is a really good hitter, and his presence in this lineup makes a real difference. He wasted no time re-establishing himself tonight, lacing a double down the left-field line in the bottom of the second (after eliciting a standing ovation from the crowd upon being introduced for his first at-bat off the DL). Zimmerman lofted a flyball down the right-field line his next time up. His biggest contribution came in the bottom of the fifth, after the Phillies intentionally walked Adam LaRoche to bring the just-activated slugger to the plate with two on and two out. Big mistake. Zimmerman roped an RBI double into the right-field corner, once again showing opposite-field power. He just got under a ball in the seventh, flying out to the warning track in center. So for the night, he went 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI, making an immediate impact on a Nats lineup that has sorely needed him.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Lost amid all the attention thrust upon the new left fielder was a fantastic — and much-needed — start by Zimmermann, who was coming off his worst prolonged stretch in five years. The right-hander had allowed at least four runs in four consecutive starts, raising some red flags. But he set the tone from the very start tonight and cruised. Zimmermann scattered four singles, a double and a walk, keeping the Phillies off-balance and keeping his pitch count to a minimum. That gave manager Matt Williams the luxury of letting his starter go deep into the game for a change, and Zimmermann responded by completing eight innings for the first time this season. Make no mistake, this was an important outing by a pitcher who had not looked this good in some time.

KEY STAT: For his career, Jayson Werth is now 12-for-18 with two doubles, three homers and 16 RBI when putting a 3-0 pitch into play.

UP NEXT: The series continues with a nice matchup of right-handers. Stephen Strasburg gets the ball for the Nationals, trying to pick up where he left off in his last start (a win) vs. the Rangers. Veteran A.J. Burnett is on the mound for the Phillies.

  1. Eugene in Oregon - Jun 3, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    Game is still on (one out in the 9th) on MLB.tv (or, at least, on my feed). But thanks.

  2. secretwasianman - Jun 3, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    Great game all the way around. Props to Danny for getting things rolling in the 3 rd. Good fielding also.

  3. dcwx61 - Jun 3, 2014 at 9:51 PM

    Oh may…The 98 yankees except for Mariano….Zimm is our Jeter

  4. secretwasianman - Jun 3, 2014 at 9:51 PM

    McClouth should go in for defense in left once Zimms ABs appear done.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:09 PM

      I made the point to someone who wanted to trade JZim that if you give him great defense his stats will look good. Seems simple enough but there have been games where the defense hasn’t picked him up as I pointed out like Frandsen at 2nd base in his last start and couldn’t pick a ball at his feet and instead of a 1 run inning they scored 3 or 4.

      That goes for all of the pitchers but especially JZim who is a pitch to contact guy.

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 3, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    What a fun game! That’s how you greet the Phoolies!

  6. Hiram Hover - Jun 3, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    Great night for both of the Zimmers-men–congrats to them and the rest. Two HRs, 10 hits, and all the starting position players except Ramos reached base at least once.

    Nice!

    • David Proctor - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:09 PM

      Ramos reached base too, though as the result of an error.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:11 PM

        Forgot that one – thanks! So 8 for 8.

  7. David Proctor - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:10 PM

    Fernando Rodney coming in to save the game for the Mariners against the Braves. I’m sure he will make it interesting.

    • David Proctor - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:13 PM

      Rodney already starting the inning inauspiciously. He was delayed getting out to the mound because he was wearing the wrong jersey and had to change.

      • manassasnatsfan - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:17 PM

        Was going to watch but the combination of Rodney’s hat and the tomahawk chop killed me I turned to watch Dodgers instead .

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:17 PM

        Strike 3 looking on a 3-2 to Heyward. Whoa!

    • therealjohnc - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:24 PM

      Braves lose! Nats 2.5 back, 2 in the loss column

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:04 PM

        Admins – please disregard my “report” of this comment – I was scrolling thru the page and accidentally clicked the button.

        My apologies, John….

  8. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:12 PM

    Well I guess its official, RZim played in LF. I think most the media and fanbase are now seeing that almost anything is possible with Rizzo and Matty.

    One game and 2 putouts is a miniscule sample size so clearly we can’t make much of his LF abilities but so far, so good.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:14 PM

      When has a small sample size ever stopped us?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:15 PM

        LOL! That’s a good point. Last season on Opening Day I had Bryce winning the MVP and hitting 324 HRs in the season.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:18 PM

      No errors at all for the team, let’s hope that is a trend.

  9. manassasnatsfan - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    Bow and arrow

  10. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    Barves lose!

    • David Proctor - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:21 PM

      Wow, you not only beat me to it, but verbatim with the exclamation point haha

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:25 PM

        You are becoming my MrsB as we do that all the time! ;)

      • manassasnatsfan - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:38 PM

        By the way I just bow and arrow referring to Rodney’s move.

        2.5 down

  11. David Proctor - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    Braves lose!

  12. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:21 PM

    Fun game… Easy breezy from beginning to end… Was hoping JZ would pitch a CG but nonetheless, so glad he came out with such a dominant performance…. Welcome back Ryan!!!!

    Lets do this again tomorrow..

    Ps, thanks Seattle!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:28 PM

      Enjoyable game and when you think of how things change if Espi doesn’t make that slick fielding play and LaRoche also the game turns quickly.

      This is what the Nats have to do as a standard. Very nice.

  13. Danny - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:28 PM

    Homer Haren is back at work. Gives one up to Abreu.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:29 PM

      Yep, 2 earned already to start the game.

      • manassasnatsfan - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:37 PM

        Abreu hit a 2 run digger off Granke last night

  14. neumanco1 - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:31 PM

    Anybody thought of Zim at 2nd? Better for arm.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:35 PM

      Sports Illustrated raised that before the season even started. A couple of folks have mentioned it here.

    • manassasnatsfan - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:35 PM

      I called for exploring that while Harper gets ready to come back.

    • David Proctor - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:56 PM

      It’s NOT better for the arm, I don’t get why people keep saying this. Turning the DP is all arm. If you want to hide the arm, LF and 1B are your only options.

      • neumanco1 - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:52 PM

        It is a side arm throw…not as hard on the shoulder.

      • neumanco1 - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:52 PM

        It is a side arm throw…not as hard on the shoulder.

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:08 PM

      I won’t claim to know much about it myself, but I am positive the Nats brain trust considered all possibilities before they stuck him in an overcrowded LF.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:10 PM

        Exactly.

  15. Danny - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:49 PM

    Nelson Cruz hits an absolute bomb for his 21st in his first game against his former team.

  16. David Proctor - Jun 3, 2014 at 10:57 PM

    Mets give up a homer in the 8th to tie it at 1-1.

  17. David Proctor - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    Mark Zuckerman ‏@ZuckermanCSN 2m
    For whatever it’s worth: #Nats now are +21 in run differential this season, best in NL East, 4th among all NL clubs.

  18. veejh - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:25 PM

    Zim has to play 3rd once Harper returns, unless you want him being bench rotation guy giving LaRoche, Rendon, and whomever in the outfield a rest. I dunno, it gets a little complex, especially if Espi hits like he did tonight on a consistent basis. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.

    • veejh - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:37 PM

      @Dcwx61…..

      I stand by my comment. Once Harper returns, what’s the move? He’ll be a rotated in bench guy. Next season he has the chance to play 1st base, but I stand by my post from way earlier today on a different thread that he will end up being a bench player this season, unless he starts at 3rd once Harper returns.

      • veejh - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:40 PM

        We haven’t seen him have to play actual defense from that LF position, either. Stay tuned.

    • veejh - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:51 PM

      @adcwonk

      Yes, a $10M bench guy, once Harper returns, unless he takes over 3rd.

  19. Eric - Jun 3, 2014 at 11:31 PM

    Cubs walk off…woo!

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 88 64 --
ATLANTA 76 76 12.0
MIAMI 74 78 14.0
NEW YORK 73 80 15.5
PHILADELPHIA 70 83 18.5
x-Clinched NL East title

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON 88 64 --
LOS ANGELES 87 66 1.5
ST. LOUIS 85 68 3.5
-----------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 68 4.0 +2.0
PITTSBURGH 82 70 6.0 --
MILWAUKEE 79 74 9.5 3.5
x-Clinched division title

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
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