In a moment good enough to be a MASN commercial, an injured Ryan Zimmerman trudged up to the plate and in Kirk Gibson style hit a pinch-hit go-ahead home run to help the Nationals top the Phillies 7-5.
The Nationals relied on their two stars tonight to dig them out of a 4-2 hole as struggling first baseman Adam Dunn hit a solo shot, his first of the year, right before Zimmerman hit his pinch-hit two run bomb. It had been a rough week for the clubs two sluggers. Dunn had only one hit out of his last 13 at bats entering todays game, and Zimmerman had been sidelined with a hamstring injury.
The bullpen was a big key in tonight’s victory as Tyler Clippard came on in relief of left-hander Scott Olsen, and pitched 1.1 shutout innings to earn the win.
Clippard changed things up tonight (no pun intended) moving away from his patented fastball which he lived and died on last season, and instead fed the Phillies a steady diet of change-ups. In total the hard throwing righty threw nine fastballs (93 MPH/AVG.), six sliders (85 MPH/AVG), and a surprising 13 change-ups (81.2 MPH/AVG). This is a far cry his last outing when he threw 11 fastballs and only three change-ups.
Oddly, when Riggleman brought Clippard in he elected to have him intentionally walk his first batter, as opposed to leaving Olsen in for four more free pitches. It’s pretty standard for the coach to leave the current pitcher on the mound in such a situation, because having a pitcher automatically throw his first four pitches as balls can put him in the wrong frame of mind. The result? Clippard walked the next batter and walked in a run. Go figure!
Closer Matt Capps came on in the eighth to earn the save the hard way, recording five outs despite three hits, and a homer. While Capps got his fourth save of the season, he’s skating on thin ice a 1.94 WHIP. So far he has yet to get burned, but with his high walk and hit rate he may be due for a collapse in the near future. Entering tonight’s game he had a walk rate of 11.25 BB/9 innings and a FIP of 5.29.
Does this mean it was a mistake getting Capps? Of course not, he has four saves and no losses, it just means that he needs to cut down that walk rate and start striking more batters out, or else there may be a problem.