Nationals Remain Perfect At Home Behind Zimmermann, Harper, And Others

It was the warmest day of the year in Washington, DC as the Nationals and White Sox started game two of their three game series. The game started 16 minutes late as the umpires arrived to the ballpark late due to DC traffic, in your fun "Only In DC" moment of the game, but there's a lot to look at from the park. It was just the preface to a 5-2 win as the Nationals improved to 6-2 on the season and a perfect 5-0 at home.

Jordan Zimmermann's performance didn't get off to the most ideal start. He gave up a run in the first inning on back to back hits by Jeff Keppinger and Alex Rios. No further damage was done in the inning, though. He cruised through the second and third, and in the fourth, he gave up two singles. The first was to Alex Rios, but he was picked off by Zimmermann after he got a huge, ill-advised jump. In each of the next two innings, he gave up a hit to the leadoff batter, but it only cost him a run in the sixth inning. It was overall an excellent outing from the great, young pitcher.

The Nats middle infield put together a couple of impressive plays during the game as well. Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa turned a spectacular double play in the fifth inning to negate the leadoff single in that inning, and Espinosa had a couple of nice plays in shallow right field on the extreme shift against former Nationals left fielder and first baseman Adam Dunn.

The Nats offense looked to struggle through the first three innings, mustering just one hit. Bryce Harper, as has been his way this season, brought the offense to life to lead off the fourth. On the first pitch of the inning, he destroyed a baseball way up the second deck in right field for his fourth home run of the season. It appeared to come just a few feet from hitting the facing of the third deck. Desmond scored another run later in the inning after doubling and being driven in by Espinosa to give the Nats the lead.

In the fifth, Jayson Werth singled and went first-to-third on a Harper single. Then, Ryan Zimmerman singled, scoring Werth, and Harper went first-to-third, giving the Nats a 3-1 lead. In the sixth, things got off to a quick start. Desmond tripled, which brought the infield in on the grass. Espinosa hit a hard grounder down the first base line for a double, scoring Desmond. Espinosa later scored on a Denard Span single, giving the Nats a 5-2 lead.

Drew Storen pitched a nice eighth inning in relief of Zimmermann. He gave up a single to Dewayne Wise to start the inning, but it was a soft roller up the middle. He retired the next three batters in order in a pretty clean inning and a welcome sight for Nats fans. Rafael Soriano didn't have a clean inning, like Storen, but he looked just about as good. He pitched with much more accuracy and didn't give up a run for the first time in two outings.

The Nats will look to sweep their second consecutive home series to start the season on Thurday evening with Dylan Axelrod and Dan Haren looking to go for the Sox and Nats, respectively.

Some thoughts:

- I disagreed with Davey Johnson's decision to remove Zimmermann after throwing just 90 free and easy pitches through seven innings, and I think it's just one example of some interesting pitching decisions early in the season. Plan to read more about this topic on the site very soon.

- Nationals PR noted that with Zimmermann's win tonight, he is 7-0 in his last 13 Nationals Park starts with a 2.91 ERA. The last time he earned a loss at Nats Park was on May 17, 2012. Say what you will about pitcher wins, and I've said a lot, but that's impressive.

Joe Drugan

About Joe Drugan

Joe is the Managing Editor of The Nats Blog and host of the Nats Talk On The Go podcast. He's been blogging about the Nationals since 2010 and with The Nats Blog since 2011.

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