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Braves 2, Nats 0: Shut down again by Atlanta pitching

Sep 30, 2015, 9:22 PM EST

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals aren’t exactly putting forth their best performance in the waning days of a lost season.

For the second straight night, they were shut down by a Braves pitching staff that has ranked among the league’s worst all year. Despite a bunch of golden opportunities early against Williams Perez, they could not push a single run across the plate.

That made life plenty difficult for Jordan Zimmermann, who in what likely was his final start as a member of the Nationals gave up two quick runs but then put up zeroes after that before departing for a pinch-hitter in the seventh. The winningest pitcher in club history wound up on the losing end of his finale, a frustrating way for his 9-year career with the organization to conclude.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: For the second straight night, the Nationals were shut down by an unaccomplished Braves right-hander. It was Matt Wisler on Tuesday. This time it was Perez, who tossed six scoreless innings. Not that the Nats didn’t give themselves opportunities. They put nine men on base (five in scoring position) through those six innings against Perez, but came away without a single run. Bryce Harper was among those who struggled, going 0-for-4 to extend his slump to 3-for-26 and drop his batting average to .331, leaving him tied for the moment with Miami’s Dee Gordon for the NL lead.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: If this was the end for Zimmermann — and there’s every reason to believe it was — it was a disappointing conclusion to a disappointing season in an otherwise fantastic career with the Nationals. He made a couple of early mistakes, giving up a pair of 2-out RBI singles, to put himself in a 2-0 hole. Then he settled down and pitched effectively through the sixth inning, only to be pulled for a pinch-hitter because his teammates hadn’t scored at all and needed to attempt a rally. That was a hallmark of Zimmermann’s early days with the franchise, when he was among the hardest-luck pitchers in baseball. But he benefited plenty from offensive support in more recent years. He’ll end this season, though, with a 13-10 record, a 3.66 ERA (his highest since 2010), 164 strikeouts and 39 walks in a career-high 33 starts that racked up 201 2/3 innings.

KEY STAT: The Nats still need to win one of their final four games to avoid their first losing record since 2011.

UP NEXT: The series concludes at 7:10 p.m. Thursday when Stephen Strasburg (10-7, 3.63) makes his final start of a tumultuous season against Braves right-hander Ryan Weber (0-2, 5.91).

  1. janebeard - Sep 30, 2015 at 9:26 PM

    Goodbye Jordan. I can’t believe we’re letting you go. Can’t believe it at all.

    • Karl Kolchak - Sep 30, 2015 at 9:31 PM

      Don’t worry, I’m sure that our “genius” GM knows just which free agent pitcher he can sign to replace JZ. After all he has had such a great track record with free agents Jason Marquis, Brad Lidge, Edwin Jackson, Rafael Soriano, Dan Haren and Casey Janssen. What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

      • adcwonk - Sep 30, 2015 at 9:56 PM

        Don’t worry, I’m sure that our “genius” GM knows just which free agent pitcher he can sign to replace JZ

        He replaced him with Scherzer — it’s just that he got Scherzer a year early.

      • Karl Kolchak - Sep 30, 2015 at 10:59 PM

        Bad move then. JZ could have been had for about $80 million less, leaving money to pay for oh, I dunno, an MLB-quality bullpen.

    • NatsNut - Sep 30, 2015 at 9:45 PM

      So sad.

  2. Karl Kolchak - Sep 30, 2015 at 9:27 PM

    Happy trails, Jordan. Too bad that thanks to our meathead manager we fans didn’t get the chance to give you an appropriate sendoff last Friday.

    • natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2015 at 7:09 AM

      We gave him a great ovation when he was walking in from the ‘pen. He knows how we feel.

  3. natsguy - Sep 30, 2015 at 9:30 PM

    They’ve quit. That plane flight to Atlanta must’ve been been really enjoyable.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 30, 2015 at 9:55 PM

      Imagine how much they’ll enjoy the fllght to New York.

      • hummel26 - Sep 30, 2015 at 10:21 PM

        Yeah, they’ve quit on the season and on MW. MW had his Joe Altobelli season last year, taking over for a manager who set everything up for him and winning with a hand that was already dealt before he came to the table. Altobelli won that first season, won the WS and soon enough slid into mediocrity. MW may have lots of good ideas about how to schedule everything in spring training (apparently this wowed them in the interviews), but we’ve seen his in-game brain freezes, his bullpen mismanagement (I was shocked to read he had a reliever warm up FIVE times in one night and still didn’t use him), and his distant communication style with his players. I really want him out of here. If he’s not, next season is already lost.

  4. moozystar - Sep 30, 2015 at 10:32 PM

    In the 10 year history of the franchise, I really feel like this is the low point. Even back in the dark days of basement dwelling it always felt like this was an organization with character. It seemed like we were going in the right direction when Mr. Bowden departed and we rid ourselves or the “bad” character players that were purchased for next to nothing in hopes the could rehab their careers or behaviors. Since ownership took over they have demonstrated a commitment to doing things right. The stadium is well maintained, the organization has a visible and positive footprint in the community and they have shown a willingness most of the time to open their bank accounts as needed. I am not sure where the blame lies, perhaps in the GM or perhaps it is just MW but I am very concerned that if this does not get fixed soon this will become a place players try to avoid and we will be back in dumpster mode. At the end of the day what we have here is a leadership problem. I can only hope someone figures it out before it is too late.

    • therealjohnc - Sep 30, 2015 at 11:23 PM

      An organization with character? I’ve felt much better about the current version of the Nats (non- Papelbon division) regarding character than the former versions. C’mon. A GM who oversees the Smiley Gonzalez fiasco, with the Latin America program director indicted for fraud? Lastings Milledge? Elijah Dukes? Paul LoDuca? Joey Eischen? Nyjer Morgan? A Team President who invites Philly goons to ruin Opening Day?

      The 2006-2009 Nationals were not teams notable for good character. One major problem that they had during Bowden’s Reign of Error was a fascination with washed-up Reds players and toolsy players who were nearly as bad on the field as they were off the field.

      • trfwans - Sep 30, 2015 at 11:40 PM

        What was wrong with Joey Eischen? He told it like it was. Sometimes the truth hurts. You can suck on that, and you can like it.

  5. Sonny G 10 - Sep 30, 2015 at 10:39 PM

    About the only reason I had to look forward to was Bryce Harper’s bid for a batting title and now he’s gone into a slump. I do hope to see Strasburg pitch a lights out game tomorrow night.

    • natsfan1a - Oct 1, 2015 at 7:12 AM

      I wonder whether all the turmoil/drama of recent days, in addition to the batting title chase, has taken a toll on Bryce.

      • wskyrnr21 - Oct 1, 2015 at 9:15 AM

        No I don’t think it has taken its toll on the poor phenom ……. he has lacked hustle and direction all year!

      • wskyrnr21 - Oct 1, 2015 at 9:16 AM

        …… he has lacked hustle and direction all year!

  6. rabbit433 - Oct 1, 2015 at 7:30 AM

    One win in the final four to avoid a losing season should be laughingly easy. But, this is the Nationals. I hope Harper can get a couple more hits to help him achieve the MVP. But, he just doesn’t feel like a MVP, at least to me.

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