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Game 158: Nats at Braves

Sep 30, 2015, 3:48 PM EST

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

ATLANTA — Jordan Zimmermann made his final start at Nationals Park last Friday night, an event that drew plenty of attention, in part because it didn’t end the way anyone would have liked for it to end. But the right-hander still had one more start to make in a Nationals uniform, and it will come tonight at Turner Field, where a crowd of 15,000 or so Braves fans won’t have much of any recognition of its significance.

For Zimmermann, it’s a bittersweet end to a mostly wonderful 9-season tenure with the Nats organization, dating back to his selection in the 2007 draft. This final season has been disappointing on both a team and individual level, but Zimmermann will reach some career milestones tonight, surpassing 200 innings pitched for the second time while making 33 starts for the first time.

The other big thing to keep an eye on: Bryce Harper, who has gone hit-less in six of his last seven games and has seen his lead over Dee Gordon for the NL batting title dwindle to 2 points (.334 to .332).

Updates to come…

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ATLANTA BRAVES
Where: Turner Field, Atlanta
Gametime: 7:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 186/869
Weather: Partly cloudy, 75 degrees, Wind 7 mph LF to RF

NATIONALS (80-77)
3B Anthony Rendon
2B Trea Turner
RF Bryce Harper
LF Jayson Werth
1B Clint Robinson
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
CF Michael Taylor
RHP Jordan Zimmermann

BRAVES (63-94)
CF Michael Bourn
3B Hector Olivera
RF Nick Markakis
C A.J. Pierzynski
1B Nick Swisher
2B Jace Peterson
SS Andrelton Simmons
LF Todd Cunningham
RHP Williams Perez

UMPIRES
HP Mark Wegner (cc)
1B Sam Holbrook
2B Marty Foster
3B Mike Muchlinski

4:30 p.m. — Lineup change: Yunel Escobar was scratched, still feeling the effects of back spasms. So Anthony Rendon moves to third base and Trea Turner returns to the lineup at second base.

7:10 p.m. — And we’re underway.

7:28 p.m. — The Nats had a golden opportunity in the top of the first after Anthony Rendon led off the game with a double. But they couldn’t bring him in after that. The Braves, on the other hand, got a 2-out double from Nick Markakis, setting up A.J. Pierzynski’s bloop RBI single to left. It’s 1-0 Atlanta after one.

7:47 p.m. — Make it 2-0 after the Nats squandered another opportunity in the second inning (two on, nobody out) while the Braves made the most of theirs (Michael Bourn’s 2-out RBI single to right).

8:00 p.m. — Bryce Harper’s mini-slump is getting larger. He’s 0-for-2 tonight after grounding into a double play to end the third and is now 3 for his last 24. His batting average is down to .333, though with Dee Gordon also 0-for-2 tonight and down to .331, Harper still holds the lead in the race for the NL batting title.

8:16 p.m. — Four scoreless innings so far tonight, meaning the Nats have scored all of one run in 13 innings so far in this series against Matt Wisler, Edwin Jackson, Arodys Vizcaino and Williams Perez. Not good. Still 2-0 Atlanta after four.

8:30 p.m. — Five innings down, still 2-0 Atlanta.

8:51 p.m. — Six innings down, still 2-0 Atlanta. And it appears Jordan Zimmermann’s Nats career has come to an end. He’ll be pinch-hit for in the top of the seventh.

9:03 p.m. — Not too much to report about this game. Still 2-0 through seven after scoreless innings from Peter Moylan and Sammy Solis. Anthony Rendon has played a brilliant third base tonight.

9:15 p.m. — We’re heading to the ninth already. Still 2-0 Braves.

9:22 p.m. — That’s it. Nats lose 2-0 in a scant 2 hours, 12 minutes. Really not much to say about this one, except that Jordan Zimmermann certainly deserved better in his final start.

  1. tcostant - Sep 30, 2015 at 3:53 PM

    Turner needs to play ever day, stop that.

    • sunshinebobby - Sep 30, 2015 at 4:12 PM

      Turner hits a home run Tuesday night, and gets benched for it.

      Why Matt Williams will get fired, Exhibit No. 1,405,568…

      • National Anthem - Sep 30, 2015 at 4:45 PM

        Agreed. Desi’s gone. Much better plan to see what the next generation can do.

  2. natsfan1a - Sep 30, 2015 at 3:53 PM

    Go get ’em, bulldog! You, too, Bryce.

  3. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 30, 2015 at 4:06 PM

    Why is MAT playing with the bum knee?

    • jd - Sep 30, 2015 at 4:10 PM

      because the team is managed by George Armstrong Custer.

      • sunshinebobby - Sep 30, 2015 at 4:12 PM

        +1

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 30, 2015 at 4:19 PM

        I dont think you understand how livid I am that MAT is playing. I keep having flashbacks to Bryce and him trying to play thru his bum knee, which made things worst for him.

        What in the hell is wrong with MdD playing RF and Werth LF and Harper CF…

        I cant with this team… although i think that MW is staying, there BETTER be major changes come Monday, October 5…

      • National Anthem - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:09 PM

        +1876

  4. langleyclub - Sep 30, 2015 at 4:26 PM

    Agree that failing to play Turner makes no sense, particularly against the Braves.

    If the Nats were playing the Mets and home-field for the Mets and Dodgers is still in play, I can understand why the Nats feel like they have some duty to play their best starting 9, but for the Braves, when literally nothing is at stake, it makes no sense for the Nats to sit their best position player prospect — Turner (especially when he has only started a handful of games over the last month). To get better, he needs to play. FWIW, I would also give Severino and Difo a start against the Braves.

  5. bowdenball - Sep 30, 2015 at 4:40 PM

    I’m gonna go contrarian here- if Desmond wants to play, he should play. It’s the least the organization can do after what he’s done over the course of his career. Sure it’s nice to get Turner some experience, but we’re talking about a handful of plate appearances here against a guy whose stuff is nothing that Turner hasn’t seen hundreds of times before.

    Do you really think Turner is going to be any better in 2016 because of a handful of at bats against Williams Perez and maybe a chance or two to turn a doubly play with a guy who’s going to be playing third base next season anyway? Come on.

    • jd - Sep 30, 2015 at 4:49 PM

      That’s true enough although I am not quite sure why a banged up Escobar and Taylor HAVE to play meaningless games. I think Turner should play as a reward for having a nice game yesterday. Might be nice to have a bit of a feel good story at the end of this retched year.

      • bowdenball - Sep 30, 2015 at 4:59 PM

        Well that’s certainly true. I’d have no problem with Turner at second and Rendon at third. Hadn’t considered that, I was viewing it as simply a Turner vs Desmond question. Good point.

      • bowdenball - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:04 PM

        Hey, it worked! Williams just scratched Escobar and put Turner at second!

        Let’s see if we can keep it going:

        I wouldn’t mind if they signed Jayson Heyward and traded for Jonathan Lucroy this offseason. And let’s bring Clip back while we’re at it!

      • jd - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:25 PM

        BB,

        I,m interested in your opinion on this.

        Lot’s of posters have been saying that we need a manager with experience (Gardenhire, Black) I don’t necessarily agree. I think there are good candidates available from a different list. Smart, personable, and adoptable. To me managing a team is not brain surgery. You need:

        1) Good people skills.
        2) Ability to think logically.
        3) willingness to use readily available data.
        4) strength of conviction (If you arrived at a conclusion that a certain move is right don’t change your direction if it fails to work some of the time ).
        5) Be able to lead without being a tyrant.
        6) be media savvy.

        I don’t know all of the potential candidates but from my limited perspective I think people like Lovulo, Ausmus and DeRosa look pretty good

      • trfwans - Sep 30, 2015 at 6:17 PM

        You need a manager who has demonstrated that he has all those attributes, not a guy who you assume has them because he talks a good game or other people talk a good game about him. That’s where the experience comes in. MW was assumed to have all those attributes before he was hired. How’d that work out?

    • jd - Sep 30, 2015 at 4:51 PM

      Also not quite sure why it’s important to have Ramos playing all these games in a row and why you can’t keep MdD playing but really I am not that upset about any of this. These games mean less than spring training games and the important thing is what happens starting Monday.

      • knoxvillenat - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:01 PM

        Agreed jd. Why not giver Severino some time behind the plate tonight and tomorrow?

      • NatsLady - Sep 30, 2015 at 7:42 PM

        Probably more for the comfort level of the pitchers. Like Desi, JZimm wants to pad his stats as much as possible, not train a rookie catcher. I have no problem with that, Zimm’s given a lot through the years.

    • rmoore446 - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:04 PM

      Des needs one more homer to reach 20 for the season. I imagine he is being given the chance to make it as a courtesy. Of course, he is also just three short of his personal high in strikeouts.

    • janebeard - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:29 PM

      Wanting to see that 20th dinger for Ian, and a coupla hits for Harp. Demi DESERVES TO PLAY for the only team he’s ever known. Give him a chance to get that last homer.

  6. NatsNut - Sep 30, 2015 at 4:57 PM

    Anyone who thinks Williams is returning, check out Svrluga’s part 3 on Washington Post. I imagine you might change your mind.

    Sigh. It’s a good read, but not an easy one.

    • NatsLady - Sep 30, 2015 at 6:16 PM

      I read it. There wasn’t that much there there, a disgruntled and apparently prickly bench player (Danny) and Werth throwing a tantrum because he wasn’t given “proper” notification about a day off. I got the feeling a lot of the info came from Randy Knorr, which really made me uneasy.

      There is a LOT of substance to criticize about Matt Williams, particularly in this latest incident. But this is the second article I’ve read by this author that has consisted mostly of gossip–I bet you could get about the same on any losing team.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m entirely in the “Fire Williams” camp. Look at the Angels, who won 98 games last year, but this year were on the verge of complete collapse and had JUST as much mismanagement and dysfunction as the Nats–IF NOT MORE!!–and now are on a tear that could lead to the Wild Card. The Nats’ season could have turned around. In late August, once the boys were more-or-less healthy, they all needed to get on the SAME train (Drew Storen, I’m looking at you–AMONG OTHERS!) and make sure it got to the station.

  7. natsguy - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:00 PM

    The WAPO articles from Barry Svigula were extremely damning about Williams and the clubhouse. After that there is no way he won’t be fired very quickly after the season is over. The articles are also very tough on Rizzo not doing very much due diligence on Papelbon. There will be a lot of heads rolling after the season. The Lerners cannot ignore this stuff. A lot of turnover will also happen in the roster. The damage done to Harper and his future here has been immense.

    • jd - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:12 PM

      fortunately there is lots of time to repair this.

    • phillygirl1807 - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:13 PM

      Not sure how Williams can stay here after this terrible season, and especially after Sunday’s inactions and Boswell’s and Barry’s damning stories. But I worry that Mike Rizzo will “sweet talk” the Lerners into keeping Williams so Rizzo can save face. I was very disappointed in Rizzo’s demeanor during his press conference. Very much on the defensive, and not willing to admit any failures.

      Even today’s lineup gives reasons for Williams to be dismissed. These games are meaningless. Play all your kids and let them get some big league experience. See how your young shortstop and 2nd baseman play together. Try out your young catcher. Give some of the bench players a chance. Williams has no imagination. Worse than that – he has no compassion. It certainly is hard to watch any Nats game with Williams at the helm.

      • rmoore446 - Sep 30, 2015 at 6:16 PM

        I share your concern that despite all the problems, mistakes and oversights and simply blockheaded moves, I worry that Rizzo will stick with Williams out of stubbornness. The vultures are certainly circling and I found the Svigula articles especially damning. Not sure if Knorr would be the right choice and there may be the impression he cooperated with Svigula which would hurt him.

        I also think Bo Porter would be a mistake based on his brief Astros’ time as a skipper. I was high on him when he left the Nats but he lost the players and his management quickly in Houston.

        Bud Black did a good job in San Diego and I think we would want managing experience the next time around. Black is the rare manager who spent his playing career as a pitcher–over 100 wins for a variety of teams with a ring at Kansas City.

      • NatsLady - Sep 30, 2015 at 6:30 PM

        I agree that Williams probably is a goner. As someone else pointed out, the DC press is very easy on the city’s baseball team. When a manager loses the beat writers, plus Boz, et al, that’s trouble. Rizzo’s problem is that Williams’ performance is only one issue of many, many issues that contributed to the Nats being in the bottom 2/3 of teams in 2015. Remember when he pointed out the accumulated difference in WAR of the regulars–except for Bryce (and Escobar) who has even approached their expected performance? Nevertheless, the press is SO bad on this I feel Rizzo will fire Williams. I just hope everyone doesn’t think that will solve everything.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 30, 2015 at 7:03 PM

        Agreed that Williams is probably toast at this point, and that there are plenty more issues to be resolved even if they do. Also hope that, if they do hire someone else, they first figure out exactly what qualities they want/need and do a thorough search.

    • bowdenball - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:14 PM

      I was with you until that last sentence.

      Harper’s free agency is three full seasons and three full offseasons away. There will be dozens more stories, good and bad, about the Nationals before that day arrives, and plenty of opportunities for the Nats to win him over, including most notably buying out his arbitration years and throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at him to convince him to play it safe instead of rolling the dice at any point over the next three years.

      None of us have any idea if Harper is going to stay here or what will go into that decision, other than basic principles of money vs risk. I bet Harper doesn’t really know yet, either.

      • natsguy - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:20 PM

        Did you read the article and Harper’s comment as he was heading into the clubhouse after the “assault”. If you haven’t read it do so.

      • jd - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:29 PM

        natsguy,

        He said that in the heat of battle after just being in a fight with a team mate. I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over that. As Bowdenball said there’s lots of time to repair that damage.

    • NatsNut - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:15 PM

      I actually took that to be more damning on the Lerners than Rizzo. It’s their limitations on salary that made Rizzo trade Clip and it was THEM who negotiated for Scherzer, not Rizzo. Both transactions sounded like the beginning of the players’ disillusionment.

      • natsguy - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:21 PM

        Papelbon was where he didn’t do his job.

      • NatsNut - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:24 PM

        Yes. True.

      • NatsLady - Sep 30, 2015 at 6:20 PM

        You know, I was thinking the same. They also put him in a box, and let him get outbid for Clippard at the trade deadline. I know they want to operate the team as a “business” and can’t have an unlimited budget, but this is what they get when they choke it off (sorry!) JUST when a little loosening is needed. Players at the deadline don’t necessarily want “stand pat,” they want management to acknowlege they have a winning team worth spending on, and a little help at the trade deadline.

    • ArVAFan - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:29 PM

      I’ve made mistakes in my career. A prompt correction and an apology go a long way towards not letting a mistake terminate a relationship, assuming the relationship is otherwise strong (and I happen to think the relationship between Harper and the Lerners is strong).

      “Prompt” in this case I would interpret as Monday. THIS Monday, as early as legally possible.

      • janebeard - Sep 30, 2015 at 8:43 PM

        I hope the Lerners have the same view of the world.

  8. jfmii - Sep 30, 2015 at 5:33 PM

    I wonder why Rendon is leading off, and Turner hitting in the 2 hole. Seems natural to go the other way.

    • NatsLady - Sep 30, 2015 at 6:21 PM

      Maybe just a comfort level for Turner. He seems to need that.

  9. NatsLady - Sep 30, 2015 at 7:45 PM

    Bryce had no chance to get the guy at the plate. So now the runner is in scoring position.

  10. edshelton2013 - Sep 30, 2015 at 8:16 PM

    So, I’m here in SC and forced to watch the Barves TV channel. They interviewed Hart and Scheurholtz between innings. The feeling is that the Barves “over-achieved” in the first half, then regressed to who they really are in the second half. Here’s a couple of tidbits:
    –We need to fix our bullpen in the off-season after trading Kimbrel
    –We’ll look for a “second-line” SP as a free agent signing or trade
    –We need a “big bat” but don’t have one in the high minors

    Sounds like they’re trying to keep the fan base in place till they move to new Cobb County in 2017.

    • knoxvillenat - Sep 30, 2015 at 8:41 PM

      Welcome to my world about 18-19 games a year. Every time the Nats play the Barves MASN gets blacked out here in TN. I usually watch the game with the sound off or just listen to Charlie and Dave.

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