After a rough ending to the homestand against the Atlanta Braves, the Washington Nationals traveled to Miami on Jackie Robinson Day to face the Marlins. It was a dominant performance as the Nats put up a 10-3 victory to improve to 8-5 on the season.
The Nationals decided to put the stink on their series with the Braves in the past with a massive first inning against Marlins starter Wade LeBlanc. They started the game single, single, walk, RBI single, double, RBI single to take a 4-0 lead. Bryce Harper walked in that third at bat of the game, but then he got thrown out at third base on Ryan Zimmerman’s single, which he’s done a few too many times this year. Zimmerman looked to have some sort of lower body issue going on around the bases, clearly visibly wincing as he rounded the bases, but he stayed in the game.
The offense came back alive in the third inning as Ian Desmond, Tyler Moore, and Steve Lombardozzi hit back-to-back-to-back doubles in a two-run inning giving the Nats a 6-0 lead. LeBlanc got two outs in the fourth inning before getting pulled to avoid facing Zimmerman, who then hit a two-run first-pitch home run, his first of the year, against John Maine. Zimmerman’s lower body looked just fine, here.
In the fifth, Lombardozzi and Kurt Suzuki got on base, and Denard Span drove them both home with a two-RBI single to give the team a 10-0 lead. The lead was good enough to pull Jayson Werth out of the game to get some rest in favor of Roger Bernadina.
While the offense was doing this, Jordan Zimmermann was completing an all around masterful pitching performance. Through five innings in this game, he had thrown just 48 pitches. It was a model performance for pitch efficiency in the early innings. He started to struggle a bit in the sixth, giving up two runs, and then he gave up a run on four base runners in the seventh, making it a 10-3 game.
Zimmermann made quick work of the Marlins in the eighth on 14 pitches, allowing him to make the first ninth inning appearance of his career. He finished the ninth inning on just five pitches, earning him the first career nine-inning complete game on just six hits and 103 pitches. He threw an eight-inning complete game in 2011 in his first year back from Tommy John surgery.
There are two major things to draw from Monday night’s game. First, the Marlins may be worse than I expected. Any team can get trounced in a game or two (see Nats losses to Reds and Braves already this season.) However, they’re 2-11 on the season and may compete with the Astros for the worst record in baseball by the end of September. Second, Zimmermann dominated a team he should have, and the offense owned a pitching staff they’re supposed to own. That’s actually a big deal. Good teams have to put a hurt on bad teams in order to pad their wins and become great. The Nats have been able to do that this year.