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Instant analysis: Nats 7, Rockies 3

Jun 30, 2014, 10:04 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: For the first time in three months, the Nationals took the field tonight feeling like a complete ballclub again. With Bryce Harper off the disabled list, the entire lineup was together again. And boy did it have to feel good for this team and an energetic crowd of 33,660 that made Nationals Park bounce up and down on what would otherwise have been a typical summer Monday night.

Harper announced his presence right away, as only he can, attempting to throw behind the batter at first base on a single to left field. At the plate, he contributed in more traditional fashion, sending an RBI single up the middle for the Nats’ first run of the night.

Jordan Zimmermann gave two runs back to the Rockies in the top of the sixth, but that deep and potent Nationals lineup quickly got those runs back, and a bunch more during a 5-run bottom of the sixth that featured an RBI double by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (yes, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman) and then a bases-loaded double by Ian Desmond moments after Colorado elected to intentionally walk Harper.

So the Nationals cruised to victory in the opener of their 8-game homestand and opened the second half of the season in style, hoping a healthy roster will carry this club to loftier heights.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: You think a healthy lineup makes a difference? Afforded the opportunity to field his entire Opening Day eight for the first time since the seventh inning on Opening Day, Matt Williams saw just what this group is capable of doing at the plate. Everybody reached base at least once, with Zimmerman reaching three times on a single and two doubles. The biggest hit, though, came from a guy who needed it more than anybody else: Desmond. His bases-loaded double in the sixth not only gave the Nationals the lead for good, it also snapped a 1-for-15 skid in which Desmond looked lost at the plate. Perhaps that will be the one that gets the shortstop back on track.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Zimmermann set the bar so high this month — he entered with a 1.18 ERA in June — that this outing felt like something of a disappointment. But look up at the end of the night, and the right-hander tossed six innings of 2-run ball, striking out five and walking only one. The Rockies did start to hit the ball hard against him late, especially during their 2-run sixth. But give Zimmermann credit: Even on what amounted to an off-night by his standards, he still was more than good enough to earn the win.

DEFENSIVE HIGHLIGHT: So, how did Zimmerman fare in his first game at third base in 2 1/2 months? Not bad. Not bad at all. His first chance in the field came on a bunt, with Zimmerman charging in and making a strong, barehanded throw that was a touch late but right on target. His second chance was particularly impressive. Zimmerman lunged to his right to snag a line drive, then threw all the way across the diamond to complete a double play that left the crowd roaring with approval. Who knows how this will proceed from here, but for at least one night, Zim looked like his old self at the hot corner.

KEY STAT: With the bases loaded this season, Ian Desmond is now 6-for-6 with 14 RBI.

UP NEXT: The Nationals will be facing another left-hander Tuesday when Christian Friedrich takes the mound for Colorado. Stephen Strasburg, coming off one of the worst starts of his career, will throw the first pitch at 7:05 p.m.

  1. nats128 - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:08 PM

    Familia just blew the Mets lead. Tie in Atlanta

  2. veejh - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:08 PM

    Meanwhile, Mets BP blowing it. Whodathunk?

    • veejh - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:12 PM

      Yes. Welcome back, Hoppah.

  3. dcwx61 - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    Did the bobble head come with an oven mitt.

  4. veejh - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:10 PM

    Hey, solid team win. Pitching pretty solid, and hits all around (including Frandsen…LOL).

    • knoxvillenat - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:14 PM

      Actually Frandsen didn’t get a hit, he was hit…….by a pitch.

      • veejh - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:17 PM

        A little slow tonight, Knoxville?

      • knoxvillenat - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:32 PM

        Obviously…..shouldn’t have fixed that last drink when West called a balk.

  5. David Proctor - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    Of all the good tonight, I don’t want to focus on one thing, but since it was such a topic of conversation: Ryan’s pick on the doubleplay was amazing but the throw was horrendous. At least it was on target, but…

    In any event, a great team win. I thought JZimm was a tad unlucky and lucky at the same time. On one hand, they were hitting balls hard off him in that 6th and so he’s fortunate to have surrendered only 2 runs. On the other hand, there were two miscues with Rendon not covering second (that run ended up scoring) and then Ramos dropping Span’s throw home.

    In the end though the offense did what it’s supposed to do and what I hope we see a lot more of.

    • therealjohnc - Jun 30, 2014 at 11:11 PM

      The throw was NOT horrendous. Third basemen bounce throws like that deliberately all the time. It’s done because it’s the most direct throw and keeps you from airmailing it. The trick is to bounce it far enough out so that the first baseman gets it on one long hop instead of a short hop. The throw had a decent amount on it, too – if you look at the replay from field level, it wasn’t a looping arc throw, it was a line across the infield.

      It was just slightly offline, but close enough so all ALR had to do was stick his foot out to touch the bag. That was a great pick and a good (not great) throw.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jul 1, 2014 at 7:23 AM

      Tough crowd. “Horrendous” would not be one of the first 100 adjectives that I would use to describe that throw.

      • dcwx61 - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:32 AM

        +1

  6. Danny - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:24 PM

    The mets really blew this one…

    • janebeard - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:32 PM

      Man, they really did blow it!

      • therealjohnc - Jun 30, 2014 at 11:12 PM

        THREE errors in the 8th inning! Wow. LOLMets

  7. janebeard - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    Johnny Holiday quote on Jordan’s pitching. He threw “27 balls, of which 60 were strikes. “

  8. scnatsfan - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    Good to see the whole team together. With the Rocks then the Cubs this might be the time to start a nice little run.

  9. veejh - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:36 PM

    Prerty classic 2013 and 2014 Mets.

    • David Proctor - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:56 PM

      And 2012…and 2011…etc.

  10. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 30, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    1. Athletics (LW: 1) – Roney: Sean Doolittle is the latest Baseball’s Unhittable Closer. Still wondering why Beane went out and got Jim Johnson.

    It never fails. Compliment the guy up and down and now in consecutive days he’s blown 2 saves. Grand slam loser tonight.

  11. tcostant - Jun 30, 2014 at 11:06 PM

    Ramos should take 100 throws from the OF every day…

    • veejh - Jun 30, 2014 at 11:10 PM

      One bad play that didn’t end up costing us. What about that toss out in the 4th that would have ended up as another run for the Rox?

      • tcostant - Jul 1, 2014 at 8:55 AM

        You work on it, so that it doesn’t cost you next time. That play gave up the lead in the 6th, he needs to do better.

  12. Eric - Jun 30, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    DP: “Ryan’s pick on the doubleplay was amazing but the throw was horrendous. At least it was on target, but…”

    Hey, it works in cricket ;)

    • veejh - Jun 30, 2014 at 11:21 PM

      The goal is the keep Zim from blowing the plays he is suppose to make. DP is being too picky. The stop was the key to that play.

  13. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 30, 2014 at 11:38 PM

    One ball hit the entire game to RZim and it was a low liner. No ground balls. I question again if the pitchers gameplan differently wtih Ryan at 3rd. Do they stay away against RHs and inside on LHs.

    Here’s an inside/outside chart against RH hitters that seems to show much more inside pitches in the start before this. Not scientifically conclusive but I’ve studied this before and I think there is something to it.

    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/numlocation_io.php-pitchSel=519455&game=gid_2014_06_30_colmlb_wasmlb_1&batterX=&innings=yyyyyyyyy&sp_type=3&s_type=3&league=mlb&cache=1.gif

    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/numlocation_io.php-pitchSel=519455&game=gid_2014_06_24_wasmlb_milmlb_1&batterX=&innings=yyyyyyyyy&sp_type=3&s_type=3&league=mlb&cache=1.gif

  14. letswin3 - Jun 30, 2014 at 11:44 PM

    Ramos needs to work on fielding that outfield throw to the plate. It’s something that dates back a couple of years. It didn’t cost us tonight, but it needs a little work.

    • tcostant - Jul 1, 2014 at 8:56 AM

      I couldn’t agree more…

    • snerdblurter - Jul 1, 2014 at 10:13 AM

      Tougher play than it looked. Not only was it a short hop, the short hop was right on the edge of the grass and the dirt so he wasnt really sure what kind of bounce it was gonna take. Not an excuse, just a tough break on a great throw from Span.

      • tcostant - Jul 1, 2014 at 2:28 PM

        80% of major league catchers make that play. He is in the majors, work on it.

        I don’t get this, it didn’t hurt us so it okay comments. If a place is getting robbed and the guy falls over on the way out only to be discovered then, is that okay – no harn/no foul? Or would that place put steps in place to prevent in the future?

  15. natsjackinfl - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:29 AM

    Probably late getting back from the beach with Desi and Zim from there Sunday off.

  16. natsfan1a - Jul 1, 2014 at 7:10 AM

    Missed a few of the middle innings but saw the rest of the game. Must have been a fun one in person. Crowd looked and sounded good.

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      Yes, it is a very good-looking crowd in DC, 1a. And I love the smell of half-smokes in the evening … it smells like victory.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 58 48 --
ATLANTA 58 51 1.5
MIAMI 53 55 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.0
PHILADELPHIA 48 61 11.5
Through Thursday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 12:35 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

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.

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