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Nats 5, Braves 4: More late heroics after a lost lead

May 10, 2015, 4:28 PM EDT

May 10, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) throws against the Atlanta Braves during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals secured their first sweep of the 2015 season on Sunday thanks to some more late game heroics to bail out their bullpen. This time it was Matt Grace who gave up a would-be go-ahead run. And this time it was Wilson Ramos who provided the decisive hit in the 5-4 victory.

Ramos doubled home Ryan Zimmerman with two outs in the eighth inning, a long flyball that sailed over the head of Nick Markakis, one of the better defensive right fielders in the business. The game was tied on an RBI single by Zimmerman, a hit that scored Ian Desmond who began the rally with a single of his own.

Jordan Zimmermann recorded a quality start, but it was anything but easy. He walked three and battled a high pitch count much of the afternoon. The Nationals handed him a three-run lead after the first inning, but he failed to maintain it.

Bryce Harper did not homer, which is news on it’s own these days. He fell just short of clearing the fence on an RBI double in the first.

The Braves fought back to tie the game against Zimmermann and later take the lead with Grace on the mound on the seventh. Grace allowed a leadoff single to Freddie Freeman, who moved to third on a flyball by Johnny Gomes that Harper lost in the sun in right field. An Alberto Callaspo bloop single then brought Freeman home for the tiebreaking run.

The Nationals moved above .500 for the first time this season with Saturday’s win and are now 17-15 on the year with Sunday’s Mother’s Day win.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The Nats wasted no time jumping out to an early lead on Atlanta, as Yunel Escobar started a first inning rally with a single on the very first pitch he saw from Braves starter Alex Wood. Desmond then bunted Escobar over to second before Harper drove him in two batters later. Harper smoked a long flyball straight away to center field and missed a home run by about three feet. The ball bounced off the glove of Cameron Maybin and fell in for a double.

Zimmerman then followed with a double to left-center to score Harper and Ramos quickly notched an RBI single of his own. The Nats left the first inning with a 3-0 lead, as Ramos extended his hitting streak to 13 games.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Zimmermann entered the day with a 2.73 ERA in his last four starts to follow a disastrous outing against the Red Sox in Boston. That momentum would not carry over on Sunday, however, as the right-hander labored through a humid afternoon.

Zimmermann gave up two runs in the second inning on RBI singles by Cameron Maybin and Wood. Wood actually went 3-for-3 on the day, not bad for a pitcher. Wood had just three hits in his career prior to Sunday through 68 total at-bats.

Zimmermann finished the second inning with 44 pitches, but did get more efficient later in his start. He allowed another run in the third inning on a Jace Peterson single and left after six innings. Zimmermann’s final line was 6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO with 107 pitches (65 strikes).

Zimmermann is 2-2 with a 4.20 ERA through seven starts this season.

KEY STAT: The Nats swept Atlanta at home for the first time since Aug. 28-31 of 2008.

UP NEXT: The Nationals head out on a West Coast road trip beginning with three games against the Diamondbacks in Arizona. Up first is a 9:40 p.m. Monday night start with D-Backs right-hander Josh Collmenter (3-3. 3.40) on the mound. Stephen Strasburg, it would seem, will start for the Nats, but Matt Williams will announce his plans later on Sunday.

  1. Eugene in Oregon - May 10, 2015 at 4:30 PM

    Did what they had to do, but not always pretty. GYFNG!

  2. Joe Seamhead - May 10, 2015 at 4:31 PM

    Another game that the Nats win that in years past they would’ve lost to the Braves. Very satisfying.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 10, 2015 at 4:33 PM

      This would have been lost 3 weeks ago! Another spirited comeback and the way the team today picked up Harper was impressive after his sun monster issue.

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - May 10, 2015 at 4:34 PM

    Look how Desi ran the bases home. Taylor needs to work on all facets of his game.

  4. scnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 4:34 PM

    What happened to Escobar? I missed the game until the 8th.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 4:42 PM

      MW says stomach bug

      • scnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 4:43 PM


      • manassasnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 4:44 PM

        Will re,evaluate to see if he starts tomorrow.

  5. manassasnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 4:40 PM

    Did you notice the hits by Ian RZim and the Buffalo.

    Ian took a slider heading out took it to right.

    RZim took fast ball over the middle right up the middle.

    Buffalo took the fastball on the outer part and pumbled it to the corner.

    It is what I preach all the time.

    • unkyd59 - May 10, 2015 at 4:47 PM

      You are something of a pumbler, 😉

      • manassasnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 5:01 PM

        My tying with RISP is pretty poor, why did auto correct let me down?

      • Section 222 - May 10, 2015 at 5:43 PM

        Why do they swing at sliders out of the zone? Why did auto-correct let me down?

        Some things are unavoidable, even if you try really hard or know what you’re supposed to do. It happens.

  6. manassasnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 4:43 PM

    Harper easy call for player of the week.

  7. Joe Seamhead - May 10, 2015 at 4:44 PM

    Stomach issue. As in a bug.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 10, 2015 at 5:19 PM

      Interesting. I guess it’s possible. The fact MW was already questioning tomorrow is odd. Must be a 1 1/2 game bug.

      • manassasnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 6:07 PM

        Well the plane trip might not be great for a bug.

  8. manassasnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 4:45 PM

    Max tomorrow Stephen Tuesday.

    Janssen 15 pitches today. Feels good.

  9. nataddicted - May 10, 2015 at 4:51 PM


    I can hardly believe FP says this as they go to the break after the last out…

    “And you can’t play any better than they’re playin’ right now.”

    That made me spit my beer all over my keyboard!

    • manassasnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 5:02 PM

      They can play better, but I will take 10 of 12

  10. TimDz - May 10, 2015 at 5:10 PM

    I thought Uggla had an iron glove….that was a great double play….

    • manassasnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 6:09 PM

      Good base running by the runner on first saved it from being a triple play. He could have easily gone to far to get back. But identified quickly that Uggla made a nice play.

  11. Drew - May 10, 2015 at 5:32 PM

    I’m on the road and found the Braves’ post game show on the hotel TV.

    Listening to a rival’s hand-wringing about its fielding and bullpen is entertaining, if you’re into the whole schadenfreude thing.

  12. David Proctor - May 10, 2015 at 5:33 PM

    We swept the series, but we also had six baserunners thrown out on the bases. The hitting has improved. The defense has improved (true to form, Mr. Desmond has not made a single error this month, though he nearly airmailed the final play of the game). Clean up the baserunning and this team will truly be clicking on all cylinders.

    BTW, what is wrong with Harper? Only 2/4 today and no homers? I think he might need to spend some time in AAA.

    • Section 222 - May 10, 2015 at 5:44 PM

      hee hee hee.

    • therealjohnc - May 10, 2015 at 10:48 PM

      Gotta master the level …

  13. Section 222 - May 10, 2015 at 5:58 PM

    Back from a very enjoyable day at the park. The Nats didn’t play a flawless game, that’s for sure. But they came through when it counted. The plethora of TOOTBLANs was disturbing, but in the end didn’t matter.

    A few random observations:

    MAT ran some nice routes to get to some deep fly balls, but he seems a bit nonchalant in making those catches. I’d love to see him emulate Bryce and use two hands just to be sure.

    Bryce learned his lesson after getting caught rounding first the other night. He tore around the base on his second single, but retreated quickly. The maximum effort he gives on a play like that, and on his outfield work is really, really impressive.

    Maybe this was discussed in the game post, but why the heck is MW sending up CRob to PH against Wood in the 7th? Sure, Wood is nearing the end of his rope, but he’s a tough lefty. If you send up TyMo you either get the matchup you want, or force Wood out of the game, and you can PH CRob for Tymo to still get a L/R matchup instead. That was a headscratcher.

    Is Avilan hurt? I really thought we’d see him against Harper in the 8th with two on and none out. Instead Freddie left in Martin, who I believe is the guy who gave up the walkoff yesterday.

    All the tributes to mothers at the game today were very sweet. They put pictures of Nats players with their moms up on the scoreboard in between innings. Some were current pictures, but some were pics from when they were little. Tanner Roark’s was especially cute.

    I’m very glad not to see Freddie Freeman for awhile.

    • thelatencn - May 10, 2015 at 6:10 PM

      I gave my Mom a plethora of tootblans for Mothers Day. They make a nice bouquet with a little bit of baby’s breath to set them off.

    • natsfan1a - May 10, 2015 at 7:49 PM

      I was waiting in line behind a grandma at the ladies room after the game. When of of the other gals said “Nice ending to the game,” she noted, “Yeah, but the middle wasn’t so hot.” And I was like, “Yeah, though the beginning was pretty good.” For life, or for a ballgame, I guess I’ll take it. Not that I have much choice either way, I suppose.

      I was just explaining to my husband about “TOOTBLANs” after the game. 🙂

      The player/mom pics were great. I liked Roark’s best, and then Span’s. Wonder what his mom had cooked up for him. Somewhere around here I have some player/parent baseball cards that the team gave away back in the day. At RFK, if memory serves.

      • ArVAFan - May 10, 2015 at 9:05 PM

        In my row, there was a father and son about 6 years old. Not that unusual, except that dad was wearing a Braves shirt and son was wearing a Nats shirt (Bryce, IIRC). Obviously some acorns do fall farther from the tree.

    • sec105rowwseat28 - May 10, 2015 at 8:35 PM

      As for why T Moore didn’t pinch hit, Charlie and Dave were speculating after the game that it was probably because he is the emergency third baseman. With Escobar already out early in the game, if MW burned T Moore as a pinch hitter there, if Espinosa, Uggla or Desmond got hurt later in the game there would have been no one left to play third.

      • Section 222 - May 10, 2015 at 8:43 PM

        That makes more sense than the guy on Twitter whose theory was that MW like the matchup of CRob vs. a tiring Alex Wood. And I suppose if it’s actually the case, it’s better than MW forgetting that TyMo was on the team.

        No sense in asking him in the postgame presser because he’d just make something up like the famous “if you’re out of slam range” excuse for not PHing for Scherzer.

  14. Eric - May 10, 2015 at 6:02 PM

    Am I the only one who has noticed an odd correlation between Escobar’s more animated antics (head-first slide into home after walkoff, calling balls and strikes when he check swings) and his suddenly disappearing from the lineup for an issue that never lasts more than a couple of games?

    • manassasnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 6:12 PM

      Only you noticed it.

    • unkyd59 - May 10, 2015 at 6:13 PM


    • Section 222 - May 10, 2015 at 6:44 PM

      So you think that MW is pulling him and making up an illness? Doubtful. He’s batting over .300 and getting the job done in our shorthanded infield. MW is not that stupid.

      • Eric - May 10, 2015 at 7:36 PM

        I wouldn’t go so far as to say I think that’s what’s going on, just saying I’ve noticed a pattern and it has me wondering.

        He seemed to stick to his guns last year when Harper didn’t run to first…maybe he has rules about showboating and/or showing up umps in such dramatic fashion? In the latter case, maybe it’s even to avoid drawing the ire of the umps?

        I’m not really convinced of anytbing, I just noticed it happened again today so I brought it up.

      • Section 222 - May 10, 2015 at 7:47 PM

        I think this is probably an example of correlation rather than causation. I haven’t seen any indication that Esco’s “antics” are causing anyone any heartburn.

      • Eric - May 10, 2015 at 8:05 PM

        I agree, with the possible exception that he seems to disappear from the line up fairly often after it happens. But, it’s definitely not a 1:1 correlation, and there’s far from any reason to presume causation.

    • natsfan1a - May 10, 2015 at 7:51 PM

      No, I hadn’t noticed anything like that. I’m just glad that he’s evidently not hurt, as I wondered after he left the game. I couldn’t figure out when he might have gotten hurt. Zimm, otoh, had some scary slides at home, imo.

      • Eric - May 10, 2015 at 8:13 PM

        Yeah, I was relieved to hear it was “just” a stomach bug…of course, it it’s bad enough, it could take him a week or so to get back into full swing (wakka wakka wakka!).

  15. mnmindc - May 10, 2015 at 6:10 PM

    Pretty tough grader to say JZ’s performance was a lowlight in a game where he ended up giving the team a quality start, keeping them in the game, and not blowing up the bullpen when it looked early like that might happen. These pitchers are human, and I think we take for granted that it’s not that easy to be “on” every day.

    I know quality starts aren’t always great starts, but they are at least competitive starts. I decided to look up how the Nats pitchers are doing by this stat:

    JZ 6 of 7 QS
    Max 5 of 6
    Stras 1 of 6
    Gio 4 of 6
    Fister 4 of 6

    The JZ number is surprising given that I think there’s an impression he’s been terrible overall (I think it’s true he hasn’t hit his stride yet, but I think the biggest issue is that the Boston game blew up his ERA so it looks overall like he’s been worse than he’s been). The Stras number is hard to believe. Maybe the ankle thing has bothered him more than we knew.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 6:22 PM

      You are correct. Take away the Sox game his ERA is 2.82

    • manassasnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 6:26 PM

      As I said during the game. The score keepers believe 4.50 is quality.

      My rule if I was created it would be 2 runs in 6 innings or 3 in 7. Though in reality I would like 2 in 7.

      He did keep us in the game. On the other hand he was spotted a 3 run lead and couldn’t hold it. Though never trailed.

      • Eric - May 10, 2015 at 6:38 PM

        I agree that 3 runs in 6 innings seems a little generous to the pitcher, but isn’t it based on league average runs per game or something? If most/all teams average over 3 runs per, than holding the opponent to 3 over six innings should give most teams a reasonable chance to win.

        I also kind of wonder if it seems generous to us because our pitchers tend to be so stingy 😉

      • manassasnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 9:21 PM

        Just for the record Tim Hudson has an ERA of 4.50. He is 45th in the league.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 6:27 PM

      Did Max not get one for going 7 with 2 runs because he gave up 3 in the 8th?

      • mnmindc - May 10, 2015 at 6:54 PM

        That’s right. He gave up five runs total if I remember correctly so it wasn’t a QS.

        Also I would add that 7 IP and 2ER or less sounds better for a QS. I think this also isn’t entirely fair in the NL though because pitchers are routinely pulled after 6 IP for pinch hitters in close games. Anyway as I said QS is a flawed stat, but in my view every stat is flawed in one way or another. I think the point of the QS metric is to say let’s give the starter some credit for keeping his team in the game, especially since Win-loss record can distort how well someone has really pitched (see eg Max Scherzer only being 2-3 on the season).

  16. Section 222 - May 10, 2015 at 6:58 PM

    One other note from the game that I didn’t want to make until seeing the replay. Ramos’s game winning hit looked catchable if Markakis had layed out. Markakis must be another outfielder who doesn’t like to dive. I can’t say I blame him, but it cost the Braves the game.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 9:23 PM

      Didn’t he miss about 6 weeks last year with a broken arm. Possibly a little gun shy.

      • Section 222 - May 10, 2015 at 10:25 PM

        I don’t follow the O’s so I don’t know. And he was pretty close to the corner too. But it was a tie game, with the go ahead run on first. He’s a two time GG winner.

        I’ll bet Bryce would have made that play.

      • Eric - May 10, 2015 at 11:36 PM

        Harper would certainly have an advantage in that he wouldn’t have to catch it backhanded.

  17. ehay2k - May 10, 2015 at 7:03 PM

    The bigger picture is that after being 6 games under .500 just a few weeks ago (on April 27, to be exact), the Nats are now 2 games over .500 and just 3.5 games back of the Mets. It was not long ago that those of us who were saying “it’s early” were getting chastised as people started to dig the Nats a grave. Now we are sweeping the Barves and taking 3 of 4 in NY.

    Werth was right – everyone knows which is the team to beat, and its the Nats.


    • Section 222 - May 10, 2015 at 7:17 PM

      Sorry, I beg to differ. You weren’t getting chastised. You were the ones doing the chastising of anyone who pointed out that the Nats were in danger of giving away the season. Which they were. But they turned it around and now we’re all happy.

      The Nats went into this series at 14-15. We’ve all been saying that the just needed to win series. But after the won the first game and finally pulled back to .500 I said, “how about a sweep so we can leave .50 behind for good.” And they did it, our first sweep this year.

      It’s a fun day to be a Nats fan.

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 10, 2015 at 7:25 PM

        Chastisement was flowing in both directions throughout April. And while it’s no longer ‘still early’ there are 130 games left to play. Here’s hoping we all stay happy.

      • Section 222 - May 10, 2015 at 7:45 PM

        Fair enough. Folks here are very thin skinned. They constantly think they are getting blasted, chastised, slammed, and who knows what else.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 10, 2015 at 8:08 PM

        ” and who knows what else.”

        And beaten with rubber hoses. Wait, that never happened.

        People “disagreed with in mostly civil tones.” Or occasionally, slightly rude tones. Oh, the humanity.

      • natsfan1a - May 10, 2015 at 8:25 PM

        I think maybe it was limp noodles? But I could be misremembering.

      • manassasnatsfan - May 10, 2015 at 9:26 PM

        I probably chastising those who treating baseball like its football. We are still first quarter of the season. In football we are in the first quarter of the 4th game.

        We in it’s early camp knew we would start winning.

        Lots of work to do still, with lots of time.

      • ehay2k - May 10, 2015 at 9:55 PM

        I believe you have this backwards. If someone said that MW should be fired, or Rich Schu, or Cat, because the Nats were “the worst team in baseball” or that “a major shakeup was needed”, there were quite a few of us who said that those measures were extreme given how early it was in the season. And at no point were the Nats “in danger of giving away the season” in APRIL. As many of us said, it was too early.

      • Section 222 - May 10, 2015 at 10:23 PM

        Yeah, but no one “chastised” you for taking that reasonable position.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 10, 2015 at 11:21 PM

        There are, occasionally, complaints from one or three posters (unjustiffied, IMO) that posts critical of the Nats’ play or management are “not tolerated,” i.e., disagreed with more or less emphatically. FWIW.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 10, 2015 at 11:22 PM

        Although, it IS true that many of us point and laugh at posters who say really dumb stuff like that.





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