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Nats 8, Yankees 6 (10): Zim walk-off puts D.C. in 1st place tie

May 19, 2015, 10:28 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: An enticing matchup between the red-hot Nationals (featuring the red-hot Bryce Harper) and the first-place Yankees produced some extra buzz at the ballpark Tuesday night. That the opener of this 2-game interleague showdown lived up to the hype only added to the intrigue.

The Nationals burst out to a 2-0 lead thanks to first-inning homers from Ian Desmond and (who else?) Harper, who launched his 10th homer in 12 games and 15th overall to right-center. But Gio Gonzalez, after a perfect three innings to begin his night, proceeded to give the Yankees six runs back in the fourth and fifth.

No worries, because the Nationals stormed back to tie the game thanks to RBI hits from Clint Robinson, Desmond and Yunel Escobar, then a solo homer by Wilson Ramos (which extended his MLB-best hitting streak to 19 games). That left this game knotted at 6 heading into the latter innings, turning it into a battle of bullpens.

The Nats’ relief corps did its part, with Blake Treinen, Matt Thornton, Aaron Barrett and Drew Storen combining to toss four scoreless innings. The back of the Yankees’ pen, though, was just as effective, with Dellin Betances recording six outs to keep his ERA locked at 0.00 and send this game to extra innings.

That’s when an old friend showed up to deliver one of his patented big drives when it matters most. Ryan Zimmerman launched a pitch off Andrew Miller off the right-field foul pole in the bottom of the 10th, his 10th career walk-off homer (first since 2013). This one puts the Nats in a first-place tie with the Mets in the NL East.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: It’s gotten to the point where we just expect Harper to homer, and we’re surprised when he doesn’t. So when he reached down to drive Nathan Eovaldi’s 1-2 pitch in the bottom of the first over the right-center field fence, the reaction was actually a bit muted given the circumstances. It shouldn’t have been, because Harper’s continued run has been a thing of beauty to watch. He has now homered 10 times in 12 games, a span in which he has posted a .660 on-base percentage. He’s not getting many pitches to hit, but he’s sure taking advantage of the ones he does get.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Everything started out so well for Gonzalez. He retired the first nine batters he faced, retiring all nine of them on groundballs, needing only 30 pitches to do it. That was as effective and efficient a stretch as the lefty has had in a long time, maybe in his career. And then it all came crumbling down during a laborious top of the fourth in which Gonzalez lost command, lost focus and lost the lead. He gave up four runs in that inning, needing 41 pitches to complete the frame. His troubles continued in the fifth when he served up Mark Teixeira’s 2-run homer. Just like that, what could’ve been a dominant outing by Gonzalez morphed into a 5-inning struggle.

DRAMATIC DEBUT: Wilmer Difo was surprised to get called up Tuesday after only 33 games above low-Class A, but the 23-year-old infielder wasn’t surprised to succeed when given the opportunity to make his major-league debut in the bottom of the seventh. Pinch-hitting for Treinen, Difo laced a line-drive single up the middle off David Carpenter, notching his first career hit in his first career at-bat. Was the rookie nervous? “Nah,” he said via bullpen catcher Octavio Martinez. “That’s what he knows how to do is hit, so he says he didn’t get nervous.” And what was Difo thinking when he got to first base? “He says as soon as he got on there, he was thinking about stealing second base,” Martinez said. “That’s the only thing.”

KEY STAT: Harper has now hit more home runs in 40 games this season than any member of the Nationals did the entire 2008 season.

UP NEXT: This quick, 2-game interleague series wraps up at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday when Jordan Zimmermann (3-2, 3.66) faces right-hander Adam Warren (2-2, 4.50).

  1. Tyler Babip - May 19, 2015 at 10:30 PM

    Incredible. I love this team.

    • veejh - May 19, 2015 at 10:31 PM

      +1. Me too.

  2. Mrsb loves the Nats - May 19, 2015 at 10:30 PM

    What a game… Mr Walk off does it again….

    Whhoop… whooppppppp….

    • veejh - May 19, 2015 at 10:31 PM

      I believe that’s #9?

      • Tyler Babip - May 19, 2015 at 10:35 PM

        Zuckerman’s side-tweeter says 10th.

      • adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 10:36 PM

        And at least the second one against the Evil Empire, err, Yankees.

        I was at the Father’s Day game when he did it against them in the bottom of the 9th.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - May 19, 2015 at 10:38 PM

        That was 10!!!!

    • veejh - May 19, 2015 at 10:37 PM

      He’s been stuck on 9 for some time. Let the flood gates open!

  3. adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 10:34 PM

    MZ — ok — given that this was a walk-off, that was *really* fast!

    • Tyler Babip - May 19, 2015 at 10:35 PM

      He must have written it while events unfolded as an act of faith.

  4. guyanesebanna - May 19, 2015 at 10:38 PM

    Felt like an October game for sure. Rolling rolling rolling. Keep it up #Nats !!

  5. veejh - May 19, 2015 at 10:40 PM

    Down 6-2, come back and win 8-6. That is solid.

  6. Tyler Babip - May 19, 2015 at 10:40 PM

    Nats also just past the Mets in run differential, too. +27 to +20.

    • Tyler Babip - May 19, 2015 at 10:41 PM

      Heheh, “passed” the Mets. They haven’t quite “past” them yet.

  7. adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 10:40 PM

    Best and worst posts in game thread:

    And it’s time for Zimmerman to have a day off. Pathetic AB

    I’m glad you’re not the manager. Thank you.

    And from veejh:
    OK, new Nats win this game. No swinging for fences.

    I think veejh called it. I don’t think RZ was swinging for fences, he was just trying to drive it hard the other way (presumably, realizing that a double would probably score Esco).

    My own comment:

    Coming back from 6-2 to win in a walk off against the Evil Empire to move into (a tie for) first place against a reliever who was 0.00 (and allowing 1 hit per six innings!) with a foul-pole hitting HR . . . a regular season game doesn’t get much better than that!!

    • veejh - May 19, 2015 at 10:44 PM

      Wasn’t trying to call it, but thanks.

      • adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 10:47 PM

        You get credit anyway.

      • veejh - May 19, 2015 at 10:48 PM

        I think you’re comment is right though. Zim wasn’t swinging for the fences and was trying to put it down the line. Fortunately, for us, the ball was flying tonight.

      • Eric - May 19, 2015 at 10:58 PM

        I agree. Looked lime Zim was just going for the classic Zim double to the RF corner.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 20, 2015 at 1:17 AM

        If you wrote this as a Disney movie with role players like Clint Robinson with a huge pinch-hit double and Wilmer Difo with his 1st ever at-bat is a pinch-hit single and Wilson Ramos ambushes the Yankees pitcher on 3-0 to not only hit a HR but extend his hitting streak to 19 and Harper hits another HR.

        Nats pinch-hitting had a 1.000 OBP with Uggla, Difo, and CRob

  8. Candide - May 19, 2015 at 10:40 PM

    Harper – 3 K’s. He’s a bum.

    (…ducks, runs…)

    • Eric - May 19, 2015 at 10:48 PM

      2K, a GIDP, a walk, and…a dinger.

  9. tcostant - May 19, 2015 at 10:42 PM

    I’m glad it’s Zimmermann tomorrow 😄. Just a fantastic game.

  10. npb99 - May 19, 2015 at 10:44 PM

    Great win. Our hitters are on fire. Just need to get a little more stability in that starting rotation now.

  11. nattygoats - May 19, 2015 at 10:44 PM

    Nerve racking but incredibly exciting. Whoo yoo

  12. Danny - May 19, 2015 at 10:47 PM

    Someone should pull that Nattygoats post from the game thread that claimed Zimmerman needed to sit.

    • Danny - May 19, 2015 at 10:47 PM

      Nvm already done above lol

    • adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 10:48 PM

      see my comment above at 10:40

      (ok, jury, does that qualify as a beer owed? 😉 )

  13. conatsguy - May 19, 2015 at 10:48 PM

    OK J Zimm, let’s get the sweep tomorrow!

  14. Joe Seamhead - May 19, 2015 at 10:48 PM

    Span’s catch late was huge! That was at least a double off the bat, if not a triple.

    • adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 10:50 PM

      Agreed. Lost in the fireworks are some other key plays: Span’s layout was tops. CRob’s pinch double was pretty key.

      • Eric - May 19, 2015 at 11:13 PM

        Difo’s excellent pinch hit for his debut also was great!

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 19, 2015 at 11:19 PM

        Yes. Yes.

    • Eric - May 19, 2015 at 11:09 PM

      Span’s catch was one of the stand out plays of the game, up there with Ramos’ and Zim’s HRs for me. Just outstanding.

      I flinched, though…he came pretty close to folding his wrist, and his surgery was still not that long ago. But he seemed to be good to go!

  15. David Proctor - May 19, 2015 at 10:48 PM

    So let me get this straight.

    Four of our five starters have an ERA over 4. One of them is injured. We haven’t got a single inning out of our MVP candidate. Our best hitter (not overall player) from last year has been on the DL twice and hit .200. Our bullpen has been, shall we saw, volatile.

    Yet we just ran out of a 16-4 streak and are tied for first place in the NL East. Imagine when Two Bags returns and the pitching staff starts producing. This is a great team.

    • veejh - May 19, 2015 at 10:50 PM

      Please paint a darker picture, this is way too rosie.

      • adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 11:00 PM

        Let’s see . . . Neither Ian nor RZ have reached .250. Fister injured.

        A team running on 2/3 of its cylinders and, whew, 16 of last 20 . . . .

  16. letswin3 - May 19, 2015 at 10:48 PM

    Happy for Difo, Ian, Zim, Wilson, the bullpen …. I’m even happy for me.

  17. adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 10:54 PM

    So, what do you do in the following situation:

    Bottom of 10th, potential winning run on 1st, 3-1 count to RZ. What do you throw?

    I guess “the book” would be: fastball outside. Charlie and Dave said exactly that.

    Clearly, the pitcher went by the book.

    Clearly, RZ was looking for exactly that.

    I guess everybody in the stadium knew it was coming.

    But it also takes good execution.

    Face-o-the-franchise, Mr Walk off!

    ================

    Charlie and Dave just mentioned the following great stat:

    In the last 10 years, only one player in MLB has two walk-offs against the Yankees. And it’s a guy in a different league! RZ, the man!

    • infideljack - May 19, 2015 at 11:05 PM

      Fortunately, this year we have several guys that can answer the call and we do not have to have a Mr Walkoff as the only hope for victory. We have 8 Mr Walkoffs.

      • Eric - May 19, 2015 at 11:08 PM

        We do, and I have to say, Ramos HR felt almost like a walk off when he hit it.

      • adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 11:11 PM

        + 8 !

  18. adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 10:55 PM

    Kudos to Blake Treinen, too!

    • manassasnatsfan - May 19, 2015 at 11:24 PM

      He is finally pitching with movement again. I was on case for a month, but glad to take him off my worry list.

      Now to work Jekyll and Hyde.

  19. adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 10:57 PM

    BTW — a number of folks who were saying that lots of tickets were available and not much interest and it was a weekday game before Mem Day and a school night and . . .

    Ended up with 37,355 paid.

    • Joe Seamhead - May 19, 2015 at 11:00 PM

      Not bad for ” not a baseball town.”

      • adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 11:01 PM

        +37,355!

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 19, 2015 at 11:21 PM

        What Wonk Said.

    • NatsLady - May 19, 2015 at 11:14 PM

      They were there, too. Only a few empty seats in far corners of the park, and lots of people standing.

    • csorrent528 - May 19, 2015 at 11:16 PM

      Let’s have a sellout tomorrow. These wonderful Nats deserve our support.

  20. Joe Seamhead - May 19, 2015 at 10:59 PM

    Nothing like beating one team from NY to move into a tie for 1st with another team from NY…

    • adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 11:00 PM

      +2

    • NatsLady - May 19, 2015 at 11:15 PM

      The Mets got a little cocky thinking they could have what’s rightfully ours. They can have next year (if they get any hitting) or duke it out with ATL in 2017. 2015 is OURS, baby, ours.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 19, 2015 at 11:22 PM

        They’ll get nothing and like it.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 19, 2015 at 11:22 PM

        They’ll get nothing and like it.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 19, 2015 at 11:23 PM

        Whiskey Tango?

        Whiskey Tango?

      • Eric - May 19, 2015 at 11:27 PM

        +1 Sofa. ALL THE YEAR ARE BELONG TO US!

  21. Eric - May 19, 2015 at 11:04 PM

    It’s kinda odd that Harp can get a HR and a walk and yet I feel like he needs to bounce back from this game.

    I kinda wonder if the GIDP was where he actually lost focus. Haven’t seen him that pissed at himself in awhile.

    • infideljack - May 19, 2015 at 11:09 PM

      Do not worry, this is a Championship ball club. When one guy fails, the others pick him up. Zim is now th best 1B in baseball, period. He is the All Star 1B for the NL and GG winner for the year with no close second.

      • csorrent528 - May 19, 2015 at 11:20 PM

        Vote Zimm for the all star team., along with Harper, Ramos,Span, and Escobar. They all deserve the honor.

      • Eric - May 19, 2015 at 11:23 PM

        Agree with you both! I might even vote for Espi right now…

      • manassasnatsfan - May 19, 2015 at 11:27 PM

        The K’s were against tough lefties. Just keep hitting and focused and he will have another solid.

    • adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 11:10 PM

      One thing that was tough for him: in his last 3 AB’s, he faced three different lefty relievers.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 19, 2015 at 11:25 PM

        And all off them make a lot of money.

        “The other guys get paid to do this, too.”

      • Eric - May 19, 2015 at 11:26 PM

        Yeah, I’m not critiquing his performance so much as I am observing that tonight’s game seemed to get in his head.

      • adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 11:40 PM

        I hear you. I didn’t think you were critiquing it — I was just noting that the Yanks, clearly, were designing their match-ups around Harper. And facing three different lefty relievers in three consecutive at-bats is something that hardly *anyone* does. Even more so when they are pitchers “from the other league” so you sort of have no idea what’s coming.

      • Tyler Babip - May 20, 2015 at 1:35 AM

        Just drawing the attention of three lefty relievers is an achievement in itself.

    • Steady Eddie - May 19, 2015 at 11:18 PM

      I think you’ve nailed it.
      I sit down in the RF corner and after both the GIDP and the first K, between innings he just squatted down glaring at the ground and didn’t throw s ball around at all.

      • Eric - May 19, 2015 at 11:22 PM

        Interesting, thanks for the field report!

        Hopefully MW will have more helpful perspective to share, or a good night’s sleep will help him shake it off. I hate to be selfish, but I’m rather enjoying watching him make history 😉

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 19, 2015 at 11:41 PM

        He’s an intense guy. He’s not going to be Eddie Murray. He’s a wild man, and the emotion is what drives him. Get used to it.

      • adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 11:43 PM

        Ooh, that’s a bummer. I hope his dad calls him tonight, or Scherzers gets on him, or something, to tell him to forget about it, and move on.

        The main point is not to hit homers or be a star — it’s for the team to win. Harper did hit a homer and the Nats did win. So Harper should feel “mission accomplished” and happy tomorrow.

        Of course “should” is different than “is” . . . .

      • Eric - May 19, 2015 at 11:55 PM

        Agrees, wonm. He seemed to point to MW as his muse recently. In any case, I don’t mind if he’s intense in the least, just seems like at this point it’s the closest thing he has to a weakness.

  22. adcwonk - May 19, 2015 at 11:09 PM

    Mets down to the Cards 4-2. Six more runs were scored. By the Cards. Mets lose 10-2

    Nats down to the Yanks 6-2. Six more runs were scored. By the Nats. Nats win 8-6.

    • Eric - May 19, 2015 at 11:12 PM

      Nice one!

  23. manassasnatsfan - May 19, 2015 at 11:33 PM

    Break down by 10 game intravals.

    Nats 4-6, 3-7, 8-2, 8-2

    Mets 7-3, 8-2, 4-6, 4-6

  24. Eric - May 19, 2015 at 11:42 PM

    From a WaPo comment on tonight’s game write up:

    Barsidepete
    11:22 PM EDT [Edited]
    “Walkoffs:
    All time walk-off HR Leaders.

    Stan Musial had 12.
    Ryan Zimmerman, 10 now. With years left in his tank.
    Tony Perez, 10.”

    Awesome!

    • manassasnatsfan - May 20, 2015 at 12:09 AM

      Either the Post are ESPN is wrong as ESPN had Perez with 11.

      Either way 3 more and we have a new leader.

      • Eric - May 20, 2015 at 12:16 AM

        It was a commenter on the Post, not a quote of a Post article. I’m inclined to go with ESPN…although your point supercedes the debate anyway…that would be awesome for Zim!

    • adcwonk - May 20, 2015 at 12:26 AM

      Wow — I had no idea! That’s quite the company RZ is keeping! And to be that close to “all time” is really amazing . . . .

      I noted (perhaps in game thread) that I was at his very first one — Father’s Day 2006, at RFK. Which was also against the Yankees.

      These names should bring memories . . .

      It was a pitchers battle between Chein-Ming Wang (for the Yanks) and Mike O’Connor for the Nats. After 7 innings it was 1-1. Nats had scored first when RZ singled, stole second, and SS Brendan Harris singled him in. Yanks tied with a Jeter double, wild pitch, then a sac fly by Posada.

      In the top of the 8th, Yanks took a 2-1 lead when Gary Majewski, who had just entered in for relief, walked the lead off batter, Melky Cabrera. He then struck out Jeter and Giambi, but A-Rod hit a double. Yanks lead, 2-1.

      In the bottom of the ninth, Wang came out to pitch. At first I was surprised that Mariano Rivera didn’t come in, or *some* other releiver. After all, Wang had walked two in the 8th. But Rivera had already pitched two games in a row before that against the Nats, including the night before when he blew a save and lost to the Nats (the Nats were down 9-2 and came back to win 11-9, scoring 3 in the bottom of the 8th. Rivera was the fifth reliever for the Yanks in that game, and, clearly, Joe Torre was hoping to get as much out of Wang as he could.

      So Wang gets Guillen to ground out, but then pinch hitter Marlon Anderson singles. Still no reliever. I couldn’t believe it, and had a good feeling.

      That brings up RZ who puts the first pitch into the Yankees bullpen, for a 2 run walk-off HR, a 3-2 victory for the Nats. RZ’s first walk-off HR.

      http://m.mlb.com/video/v122401983/?c_id=mlb

      • adcwonk - May 20, 2015 at 12:32 AM

        wrong link — sorry —

        Try http://m.mlb.com/video/v19972349/nyywsh-zimmerman-hits-a-walkoff-homer

        Carp sounds exactly the same — except he hadn’t yet started saying “see. you. later.”

      • Eric - May 20, 2015 at 12:34 AM

        Nice recap, thanks for sharing! They showed it on the broadcast tonight and the look on Zim’s face is absolutely hilarious. He looks like he might have gotten addicted to hitting walk-off HRs as he rounded first 😉

      • natsfan1a - May 20, 2015 at 9:12 AM

        I was at that game, too, as well as the previous day’s game, where our boys chipped away at the Yankees lead and eventually came back all the way to win it, against the Sandman, I do believe. A couple of very happy Nats memories. The first game of that series, not such a happy memory. Eh, once in a while we had to let the Yankees win. 🙂

      • natsfan1a - May 20, 2015 at 9:18 AM

        See also this Svrluga gamer:

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/18/AR2006061800456.html

      • adcwonk - May 20, 2015 at 10:11 AM

        Thanks for that! Svrluga describes, exactly, how I felt during the game. The fact that Wang was visibly tiring, the elation when fans saw him come out to pitch the ninth, the idea, planted in the inning before, that RZ might hit a walk-off. All that ran through my mind during the 8th and 9th.

        I guess I wasn’t the only one thinking all those thoughts 😉

        (One new tidbit — he noted that RZ had never hit a walk-off *anything*. Ever. Not in little league, or high school, or college.

        Wow.

  25. manassasnatsfan - May 20, 2015 at 12:07 AM

    This time FP could say game over as soon as Escobar scored since he was run 7.

    When Escobar scores the Nats are now 17-0

    • veejh - May 20, 2015 at 12:18 AM

      love this stat, MNF. Keep it coming.

  26. scmargenau - May 20, 2015 at 1:36 AM

    U guys are missing the issue. Gio struggles again starting pitching besides sherzer has been woeful. Nobody is concerned? Hitting is hot but it won’t always be, we need more consistent pitching

    • rayvil01 - May 20, 2015 at 7:08 AM

      Officially not concerned. Things have not synchronized. Pitching will get better.

    • unkyd59 - May 20, 2015 at 8:36 AM

      Also unconcerned… This staff will come around… And we’re tied for the division… Here’s a great old saw: “Worrying is like praying for the worst possible outcome”. MNF notices every little flaw, yet he expects a win, every night… I like that…

    • manassasnatsfan - May 20, 2015 at 3:06 PM

      I figure the pitchers will straighten up. Only concerned if they pitch the same the next 120 games.

  27. lplipty - May 20, 2015 at 6:24 AM

    Probably harpers worst game in 3weeks

    • rayvil01 - May 20, 2015 at 7:07 AM

      Homers and walks. Then GIDP and 2Ks against three different first-time-ever seen lefties. The last one having not given a hit to a lefty all year and got a gift call on strike one a foot outside.

      He didn’t have that bad a game.

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