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Game 153: Phillies at Nats

Sep 25, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

Jordan Zimmermann made his first career start at Nationals Park on April 20, 2009, in front of a sparse gathering of a few hundred fans who waited out a 2-hour, 10-minute rain delay to see a promising rookie right-hander beat the Braves, 3-2. Tonight, Zimmermann takes the mound at Nationals Park for the 94th time … and most likely the final time wearing a curly W cap.

It’s perhaps fitting that the Nats are handing out Zimmermann bobbleheads tonight, commemorating the finest moment of his career: His no-hitter over the Marlins on the final day of the 2014 regular season. It was Zimmermann’s opportunity to take the spotlight all to himself, avoiding the shadow of Stephen Strasburg or anyone else who had often received more attention than him.

Zimmermann, a pending free agent, isn’t one for sentimentality, so he probably won’t show much emotion tonight. It’ll be interesting to see, though, what kind of reaction he gets from the crowd that gathers for this series opener against the Phillies, a game with not much else at stake (aside from the Nationals trying to stave off mathematical elimination a bit longer).

Updates to come…

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183/869
Weather: Cloudy, 70 degrees, Wind 10 mph in from CF

NATIONALS (78-74)
2B Anthony Rendon
3B Yunel Escobar
RF Bryce Harper
LF Jayson Werth
1B Clint Robinson
SS Ian Desmond
CF Michael Taylor
C Wilson Ramos
RHP Jordan Zimmermann

PHILLIES (57-96)
SS Freddy Galvis
LF Aaron Altherr
CF Odubel Herrera
1B Darin Ruf
3B Cody Asche
2B Andres Blanco
RF Brian Bogusevic
C Cameron Rupp
RHP Jerad Eickhoff

UMPIRES
HP John Tumpane
1B James Hoye
2B Bill Welke
3B John Hirschbeck (cc)

7:05 p.m. — We are underway on a chilly, overcast Friday night. Jordan Zimmermann got a much larger than usual ovation as he made his way in from the bullpen for this one. Certainly seems like the crowd understands the situation here tonight.

7:18 p.m. — Wow, Zimmermann was locked in during the top of the first. He retired the side on 10 pitches, striking out a pair. Then his teammates gave him a run to work with. Anthony Rendon led off with a double to left. Then, even though rookie Jerad Eickhoff struck out Yunel Escobar and Bryce Harper on six total pitches, Jayson Werth delivered a 2-out, RBI single to center. That snapped an 0-for-15 slump for Werth, whose batting average had dropped from .236 to .224 in the process. Nats lead 1-0 after one.

7:35 p.m. — The Phillies got a hit off Zimmermann in the top of the second, with Cody Asche lining a ball to right-center. But it was quickly erased by a 4-6-3 double play. Good stuff so far from Zimmermann, who has faced the minimum and thrown only 21 pitches through two scoreless innings.

7:53 p.m. — Oh, my. Aaron Altherr hit an inside-the-park grand slam in the top of the third. The situation: With the bases loaded and one out (a byproduct of an ill-advised late throw from Zimmermann to third base on a sac bunt attempt), Altherr hit a sinking liner to center. Michael Taylor tried to make the diving catch, missed and the ball nearly rolled to the warning track. By the time Werth retrieved it and got it to Ian Desmond, Altherr had circled the bases without a throw. Given the circumstances and game situation, that probably wasn’t worth the gamble on Taylor’s part. The risk seemed to outweigh the reward. Regardless, it’s too late now. 4-1 Phillies after three.

8:08 p.m. — Boy, the Nats have had some uncomfortable at-bats tonight against Eickhoff. Harper has struck out twice already, as has Taylor. Eickhoff has six strikeouts through four innings, the Phillies still leading 4-1.

8:30 p.m. — Oy, this one is not turning out the way anybody hoped it would. At least, anybody who plays for, covers or roots for the Nationals. Zimmermann gave up two more homers in the top of the fifth, both of these conventional, over-the-fence shots (including one by Altherr). That made it 6-1 Phillies. Then Wilmer Difo pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the fifth, denying fans any opportunity to salute Zimmermann as he walked off the mound here for the likely final time as a member of this organization. Not good.

8:42 p.m. — Speaking of not good: Bryce Harper has struck out three times tonight vs. Eickhoff. Werth, however, did homer on the next pitch, trimming the deficit to 6-2 after six.

8:58 p.m. — Make it 10 strikeouts for Eickhoff in seven innings tonight. What a performance from the rookie right-hander. Still 6-2 Phillies after seven.

9:17 p.m. — Ugh, make it 8-2 after Cody Asche’s homer in the eighth off Rafael Martin.

9:34 p.m. — And that’s your ballgame. Nats lose 8-2. The Mets are crushing the Reds in Cincinnati, so the magic number to clinch the NL East is about to drop to 1.

  1. natsfan1a - Sep 25, 2015 at 3:41 PM

    Eh, I thought I left a comment.

  2. nats106 - Sep 25, 2015 at 3:47 PM

    Sad, melancholy, bittersweet. I was at the no hitter last year. kept thinking I was going to leave early but couldn’t as Jordan got closer and closer.

    I’m now both sad and somewhat angry that the game I saw that day may have been the high water mark for this franchise. I can remember saying that I hoped the no hitter wasn’t the high point, meaning I was hoping we wouldn’t be one and done in the playoffs.

    I don’t know if the door is shut for next year, but the future doesn’t look as good as it did at the end of 2011, 12, 14 or even 13.

    Gotta go and pick up my JZimm bobblehead. It’s one of 2 that I’ll have. Everyone have a great weekend.

    • bowdenball - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:24 PM

      “I don’t know if the door is shut for next year, but the future doesn’t look as good as it did at the end of 2011, 12, 14 or even 13.”

      I’m not sure why you would say that. The Nats have a top 5 farm system that features two elite MLB-ready prospects, three if you count Joe Ross. They have an ownership group that has already shown its willingness to maintain a payroll in the upper echelon of the league and a growing fanbase that will only improve their financial flexibility. Yes they’re about to lose JZimm, but they’re also about to shed the salaries of three veterans who gave them replacement-level production in this 85ish win season. And oh yeah, they have a 22 year old MVP

      Look at it this way: imagine telling a GM that all they had was Bryce Harper, Lucas Giolito and Anthony Rendon and they had to build around that core for the next 3-5 seasons. Every GM in the world would take that job happily and get to work assembling some vets and other pieces to support them. Now imagine telling them that you’ll help them out a little bit by giving them Trea Turner, Joe Ross, Michael A Taylor, at least one season of Stephen Strasburg, and oh yeah Max Scherzer on a unique deal that results in him only getting about $15 million per for the next several years. And you’ll throw in a couple veteran clubhouse guys in Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Gio Gonzalez to help out the youngsters and give you some impressive offensive production when they’re healthy.

      That doesn’t sound good to you? Sounds pretty good to me.

      • jd - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:41 PM

        BB,

        This is JayB level nonsense. Of course we are in as good a shape as anyone going into 2016. We do need an upgrade at manager and pitching coach IMO.

      • bowdenball - Sep 25, 2015 at 5:01 PM

        I agree. And of course a reworked bullpen. The great thing is that those are all easy changes to make year to year. It’s a lot easier to find a couple quality setup men then it is to find a Lucas Giolito.

        The other nice thing is that the pressure will be off and fan expectations will be lowered. In fact unless we pick up a top tier OF bat I think you’ll see a lot of people pick the Mets to finish ahead of us, just like we saw in 2014 with the Braves coming off their big year. If nothing else that seems to be good for the sanity of the fanbase.

      • Nats Fan Zee - Sep 25, 2015 at 5:09 PM

        How about a bull pen upgrade?

      • skinsdiehard - Sep 25, 2015 at 5:19 PM

        Doesnt sound that impressive. Need four or five good bats in the lineup. Not two (Rendon / Harper). Need more than two good pitchers (Scherzer / Giolito). Werth, Zimmerman, Ramos, Taylor can’t hit. Need more superstar hitters. That’s the problem with fans and Rizzo. You keep overestimating this team. Remember 2013 and 2015.

      • JayB - Sep 25, 2015 at 6:33 PM

        yup real nats fans can find good in pile of underperforming, self indulging roster Rizzo once drafted….what was the point of Uggla again?

      • natsguy - Sep 25, 2015 at 6:43 PM

        Where did you get that about the Nats having a top 5 farm system. Maybe several years ago, Other than 4 players the system is pretty much bare.

    • NatsLady - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:26 PM

      I also was at the no-hitter, a rare display of emotion for J Zimm. I’ll miss him. Not going to worry about next season until at least October, though we do have some promising young players (Turner, Ross, et al). The saddest thing is all the talk has passed the Nats by, the playoff teams are talking their rotations, rosters, and so forth. Meanwhile, our only headline is Papelbon’s suspension. I kind of doubt he threw at Machado’s head on purpose, but it seems typical of him that he won’t out-and-out deny it.

      I’d say my greatest disappointment this season has been Max’s second half performance. Stras was injured and Gio was Gio, but if Max were 18-6 instead of 12-12 we would be right in the thick of it. And yes, I know, pitcher wins–but if Max wins, the Nats win.

      I think Rizzo should package Escobar (sell high) and Storen (sell, just sell) and some $$ for another starting pitcher and low-level prospects. I think we should give real consideration to re-upping Span, if he doesn’t take the QO (which I definitely think we should offer). Rivero should set up for Papelbon and in 2017 he should inherit the closer’s job. There I go, talking about next year… Oh, well.

      • Doc - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:58 PM

        You said it with some eloquence, NL!

        Too many injuries, and not enough pitching, either in the ‘pen or in the rotation.

        It happens to the best teams.

      • Nats Fan Zee - Sep 25, 2015 at 5:13 PM

        NL – I would not go near Span without a medical back out. At this point, not even he knows if he will ever play again.

  3. Section 222 - Sep 25, 2015 at 3:56 PM

    I was at that first start, and because of the rain delay got to observe him up close. (The few hundred fans still around for first pitch all congregated behind the dugout.) He’s had a great run with Nats and that no-hitter remains the second most exciting moment at Nats Park ever (after Game 4, of course). We’ll miss him, and I’m not holding out any hope he’ll be back.

    I am curious to see where he ends up. For years, lots of people have assumed he wants to be closer to home, so the Brewers would be a contender, and maybe the Cubs for deeper pocket. But maybe he’ll just go to the highest bidder. If so, he’ll be worth it.

    • jeffreycbullock - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:08 PM

      of course, we know the Nationals won’t be a / the high bidder.

    • jd - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:13 PM

      Here is how I think it will shake out: Price will be the biggest fish followed by Greinke and I think the bidders will include the Dodgers and the Red Sox and these will be mega contracts such as what Scherzer got here. JZim will be in the next tier and I think the contenders here will include the Giants, the Cubs and a couple of others, my guess is JZim goes to the Giants for something like 5 x 25.

      I have always been of the opinion that JZim while a very good pitcher is a classic no. 2 starter. He is everyone’s sentimental favorite because he is an original Nat and he pitched 2 of the greatest games in Nats history and for that we will always remember him fondly.

    • jd - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:14 PM

      Of course the Yankees will be in the mix for all of these guys and will land someone significant.

  4. NatsLady - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:15 PM

    On my way. Can’t say I’ll stay for the entire game, though my student rescheduled for later tomorrow, so I can sleep late. If it’s chilly, no 18 innings for me.

    • jd - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:17 PM

      Enjoy the game. Would have been more interesting if MW started Turner instead of Desmond.

      • trfwans - Sep 25, 2015 at 6:34 PM

        They seem to have found a more important job for Trea Turner tonight. He’s handing out bobbleheads at one of the gates. I guess they thought Desmond would drop too many.

    • bowdenball - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:25 PM

      Tonight I’d say everyone who stays to cheer JZimm when he walks off the mound for the last time has done their duty as a Nats fan. That’s the important part IMO.

  5. Danny - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:23 PM

    The skills Turner possesses are going to be a big improvement over Desmond next year.

    • NatsLady - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:28 PM

      Kid can hit. Don’t know about power, though, haven’t seen that yet.

      • Danny - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:32 PM

        He is a natural 300 hitter. He probably maxes out at 10-12 bombs, but makes up for it with triples and SBs. My only question is his throwing arm at short.

      • jd - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:39 PM

        Power is not critical for that position. I think Rendon, Taylor et. al will make up for him. I think that offensively our biggest issue this year is that we had too many players with OBP under .300. Ramos in the 260’s and Desmond and Taylor in the .280’s. If Turner has an OBP in the .320’s that will be a big help. Ramos also needs to get back to at least the .290’s.

        I think we have to make QO to all 4 of Span, JZim, Fister and Desi. None are likely to accept and it’s not the end of the world if any of them do.

    • ArVAFan - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:51 PM

      Span may take the QO, just to get a year to prove that he’s really healthy. Otherwise he may not get the price on the multi-year contract that I’m sure he really wants. But it’s obvious he liked playing here. So maybe he will be the first player to actually take the offer.

      If we don’t make one, that means that (1) the Nats are afraid he’d take it, and (2) they know more about his health than we do. I know that outcome is in the range of possibilities, but I’m not sure I’d upgrade it to a probability.

      • Candide - Sep 25, 2015 at 5:08 PM

        Imagine what a 1-2-3 lineup of Span, Rendon, and Harper would do, if they could all stay healthy a full season (I know, odds of that are about 10%, at best).

        With the runs they’d create, we could almost have a staff anchored by Dan Haren and Daniel Cabrera, with Henry Rodriguez closing, and still run away with the division…

        Okay, I’ll put down the opium pipe now…

    • natsguy - Sep 25, 2015 at 6:44 PM

      Has made a lot of errors in the minors.

  6. Candide - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:47 PM

    I’ve worn my Scherzer jersey to four games, most recently Wednesday night, when he was the LP.

    Record is 1-3.

    Time to switch to my Harper patriotic blue jersey. He’s in a slump, might need this to break out.

    Our last game of the season, and also likely the last time we’ll see JZimm in a Nats uniform. 😔 😞

  7. ArVAFan - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:55 PM

    I’ll be there, for all the reasons stated above. I’ll be in the back of 313 as usual, hoping to have something to cheer for–but as you say, if nothing else, to cheer J Zimm for the last time as a Nat. If he goes to the Cubs, I get to Chicago often enough that I might end up cheering him in a Cubs uniform (NOT pitching against the Nats, you understand!) although that will feel rather weird.

  8. sunshinebobby - Sep 25, 2015 at 4:58 PM

    Totally off topic, but why is Desi still starting? Wouldn’t it be time (beyond time, really) to see what Trea Turner does getting 3-4 at-bats a game. I’ve seen enough Desi flailing at outside breaking pitches to last me a lifetime. Two lifetimes.

    Play the kids, Matty. You’ve showcased Desi and Ramos enough.

    • Nats Fan Zee - Sep 25, 2015 at 5:18 PM

      It won’t happen because that makes sense.

    • Section 222 - Sep 25, 2015 at 5:53 PM

      The MMN is 3 sunshineb. Once you see it go to 0, I predict Trea will get regular starts. Maybe Severino too.

  9. Section 222 - Sep 25, 2015 at 5:21 PM

    The bobbleheads are cool, though I wish they would have figured out a way to put Souza in the scene behind JZnn instead of Espi.

  10. JayB - Sep 25, 2015 at 6:16 PM

    and it begins….all the real fans are fine with losing…..just like the players.

    • philipd763 - Sep 25, 2015 at 6:39 PM

      DC fans know nothing else but losing, Jay B.

    • natsjackinfl - Sep 25, 2015 at 7:33 PM

      Please note that one Mr. JayB hides behind his computer keyboard expounding his absolute devotion for baseball yet never having the cajones to introduce himself to anyone on this site.

      Over two dozen Natsinsider regulars have taken the time to meet this old curmudgeon either during Spring Training or at Nats Park and while our discussions are centered around the Nats, we don’t always agree. But we always enjoy the social aspect that baseball brings and are always thankful for the opportunity to meet like minded, friendly people

      Either JayB doesn’t have the social skills or he isn’t a friendly person because I don’t know of anyone that has ever met him.

      I will gladly change my thoughts on the fellow if someone from this site can tell me differently.

      • Section 222 - Sep 25, 2015 at 11:26 PM

        NJ, we haven’t met yet, and I do hope to meet you sometime, but given the way you have castigated him over the years, I don’t blame JayB at all for not stopping by to chat with you. You don’t give the impression that you’d be pleasant to him in that interaction, particularly since you suggest that he needs to have “cajones” to introduce himself to you. An invitation filled with insults is not particularly inviting.

    • Section 222 - Sep 25, 2015 at 11:22 PM

      If you had been here before this week, you’d know JayB is a fan who attends dozens of games every year and has from the beginning. He just has a different outlook than many of us.

      Incidentally, I’ve enjoyed lots of baseball following losing teams including this one from 2005-2010. But I would never suggest that a fan can’t complain about a losing team because it’s better than no baseball at all. That’s silly. Of course it’s better than no baseball at all, but it’s not better than winning. And now that we’ve experienced winners in 2012 and 2014, this season hurts. A lot. I don’t blame any fan for venting here. If you don’t like it, tough.

  11. natsjackinfl - Sep 25, 2015 at 7:50 PM

    And on another note, baseball instincts are displayed in an instant.

    Time and time again, young Mr. Taylor shows he lacks baseball instincts. I’m not sure you learn those but maybe you can.

    • Joe Seamhead - Sep 25, 2015 at 10:20 PM

      Jack, if an outfielder is going to come in to catch that ball, you have to A: Keep it in front of you at all costs! As you’re in direct CF and neither Werth or Harper could back him up. B:He had no chance with his glove position the way he tried to play it.

  12. natsguy - Sep 25, 2015 at 8:18 PM

    This team has packed it in.

  13. IsawTeddywin - Sep 25, 2015 at 8:21 PM

    Wonder how much money Zimm has lost tonight. So sad.

    • Section 222 - Sep 25, 2015 at 11:28 PM

      Not a penny I’m sure. But yes, very sad.

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