It wasn’t dominant or polished, but the Washington Nationals (53-56) pulled together a much-needed 4-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers (46-63) on Friday night, their first win since Sunday.
Though not his sharpest start, Jordan Zimmermann did his part to earn his career-high 13th win by shutting the Brewers out over six innings and keeping his team in the game. Zimmermann limited Milwaukee to four hits and four walks, and struck out five.
The offense’s support of Zimmermann was sparse, but sufficient, as they collected their four runs on 12 hits, an unfortunate ratio that resulted in seven men left on base.
Three of those hits belonged to Jayson Werth, who went 3-for-4 and represented the Nationals only two hits for the first four innings of the game. Eventually though, the rest of the offense came to play with him, starting in the fifth inning when Ian Desmond performed an on-field tutorial on “manufacturing a run.”
Desmond led off the inning with a double, then stole third base and scored on an error by Brewers third baseman Jeff Bianchi for the Nationals’ first run of the game.
The Nats proceeded to score one run apiece across three of the final innings of the game. Though they had opportunities to break the game open and score more than just one run – Desmond grounded into an inning-ending double play on the first pitch he saw with the bases loaded in the sixth inning – the fact that they didn’t completely stop scoring after the first runner crossed home plate was a positive rupture in a negative Nats custom.
In the sixth inning, Bryce Harper was responsible for the run scored. He led off the inning with his 16th home run of the year, which he blasted to the upper deck of seats above right field.
In the seventh, Anthony Rendon was the RBI-man, delivering a two-out single to bring home Wilson Ramos. Denard Span, Ramos, Harper and Rendon all singled during the inning, but because Span got caught stealing, Roger Bernadina struck out looking and Ryan Zimmerman lined out to end it, again only one runner touched home.
The Nats’ slump with runners in scoring position continued, going 2-for-7, but luckily for their morale and their record, the Brewers were worse with a 0-for-9 RISP mark.
The Brewers’ only run of the night was scored on an eighth inning home run hit by Justin Lucroy off Tyler Clippard. The home run was the first run Clippard had allowed since June 25 across 15 scoreless outings.
Former National Tom Gorzelanny started pitching the game for the Brewers, and was off to a strong start, sitting the Nationals down in order on just seven pitches in the first inning. But he was knocked from the game in the second, when Werth hit him in the wrist with a line drive. That gave the Nationals the opportunity to get a look at the Brewers’ bullpen and its 2.96 ERA early in the series, which may prove beneficial to them in the coming games.
The Nationals needed to start August on the right foot, which they accomplished with the win. However, the offense still needs to make some major improvements before they are playing to the potential that made them such a fun team to watch.