Sep 25, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT
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
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
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
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.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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