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Nats 15, Braves 1: Everybody hits in series-opening rout

Sep 3, 2015, 10:07 PM EST

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals’ final 30 games of the season feature a whole lotta games against the NL East’s three weaklings. And nobody looks weaker right now than the Braves, who entered Thursday’s series opener having lost 15 of their last 16. Make it 16-of-17 after the Nats pummeled them in a rout that at times didn’t feel like a fair fight.

The Nats scored 10 runs and sent 19 men to the plate in the first three innings alone, with every member of the lineup reaching base. Bryce Harper didn’t even have a hit, but his four walks helped keep the line moving and produced four runs in the process. Ryan Zimmerman was a machine again, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and four RBI. And the guy who replaced him after all the starters departed, Danny Espinosa, went 2-for-2 with a homer himself.

Jordan Zimmermann took advantage of all that run support and mostly cruised his way through six innings. By the end, it was mostly backups in the game, playing out the string of a lopsided win over a team that looks like a mess right now. And there remain three more games in this series.

With the win (and the Mets having the night off) the Nationals moved to within 6 games of the NL East leaders with 29 to go.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Basically, pick any player in the lineup and give it to him. But we’ll focus on the man who has been in the middle of everything lately: Zimmerman. With Bryce Harper walking every single time in front of him, the Nationals cleanup man had ample opportunities to drive in runs. Which he did. Zimmerman doubled in the first, just missing his 201st career homer moments after the crowd gave him a standing ovation for hitting his 200th the previous night. He sent a sacrifice line drive to center in the second inning. He singled home two runs in the third. And he doubled homer another run in the fifth. All told, Zimmerman now has 23 RBI in his last 11 games and 71 in 92 total games this season. Remarkably, he only trails Harper by 7 for the team lead.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: He allowed only one run and two hits in six innings, but Zimmermann actually struggled a bit. That’s because his command was surprisingly off, resulting in four walks, three of them in the first two innings alone. He also balked and uncorked a wild pitch. The good news is that he made it through his six innings in one piece, throwing 87 pitches and basically just getting his work in (while happily accepting the easiest win of his career) in preparation of the far more important start he’ll make Tuesday against the Mets.

KEY STAT: Bryce Harper became only the fourth player in MLB history to score 4 runs without an official at-bat in a game, joining Joe Morgan, Rickey Henderson and Larry Doby (all Hall of Famers).

UP NEXT: Tanner Roark returns from a brief minor-league stint to start Friday night’s game in place of Stephen Strasburg. It’ll be right-hander Julio Teheran on the mound for the Braves at 7:05 p.m.

  1. Drew - Sep 3, 2015 at 10:17 PM

    Great win – and it was fun to see Trea Turner pass Moonlight Graham on the all-time hits list.

    For trivia buffs (likely most of us) Archibald Wright “Moonlight” Graham did indeed go hitless in his one big league game in 1905.

    He also did die in Chisolm, Minnesota- as in “Field of Dreams.”

    But you’ll recall that in the movie, Costner’s Ray Kinsella encounters the elder Doc Graham in 1972. The real Moonlight Graham died in Chisolm, Minn. in 1965.

    Back to your regularly scheduled program. GYFNG!!!

    • alexva6 - Sep 4, 2015 at 7:24 AM

      please don’t tell me those ghosts didn’t really come out of the corn field. I need to believe in miracles right now.

  2. patrickthand - Sep 3, 2015 at 10:50 PM

    The Nats don’t have to put all their eggs in one basket with the Mets and the NL East. The Nats are 7.5 behind the Cubs for the second wild card, 11.5 behind the Pirates, and just a game behind the Giants. The Cubs and Pirates have brutal schedules the rest of the way (and play each other seven times). However, the Giants have an easy schedule.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 3, 2015 at 11:16 PM

      That’s an awfully long way back with three teams ahead of them.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 3, 2015 at 11:17 PM

        Technically two teams for the wild card, assuming they could do that and still not catch the Mets.

  3. naterialguy - Sep 3, 2015 at 11:22 PM

    Man that was one of the muggiest games I have ever been to. I am ready for Autumn baseball weather.
    Very different feel watching tonight game compared to the past three.

  4. npb99 - Sep 3, 2015 at 11:25 PM

    I didn’t see a minute of this game, but reading the score was a great pleasure. Don’t let up, guys.

  5. philipd763 - Sep 3, 2015 at 11:51 PM

    Opposing teams aren’t pitching to Harper so he is now 4 home runs behind Carlos Gonzalez.

    • NatsLady - Sep 4, 2015 at 12:02 AM

      He’s not feeling well, so probably doesn’t mind not having to swing the bat. But he does want the homers. Poor kid. (LOL!)

  6. jfmii - Sep 3, 2015 at 11:51 PM

    Ross Detwiler

    • NatsLady - Sep 4, 2015 at 12:03 AM

      Yeah. Someone called into Phil Wood and suggested the Nats take a chance on Detwiler, him being a lefty and a first-round draft choice (those were the reasons given). Phil Wood is amazingly polite. I’ve noticed that before.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 4, 2015 at 12:23 AM

        Seriously?

      • NatsLady - Sep 4, 2015 at 7:20 AM

        The caller sounded serious.

        I’m certainly serious in my admiration of Phil Wood’s ability to deal politely with callers like that.

  7. adcwonk - Sep 4, 2015 at 12:14 AM

    Perhaps noted in other threads (I haven’t read them, as I was at the game), but:I didn’t see the RBI mentioned.

    So, all told:

    Bryce was 0-for-0, with zero swings, 4 runs, and an RBI

    • Section 222 - Sep 4, 2015 at 8:38 AM

      Good to see you there wonk.

      • adcwonk - Sep 4, 2015 at 9:23 AM

        Indeed! Mrs Wonk and I saw you, NatsLady, and ArlVaFan. Very nice!

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