Bryce Harper made his home debut with the Washington Nationals Tuesday night — that’s the good news. The bad news is that the Nationals didn’t hit in support of starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. Zimmermann (1-2, 1.89) pitched a decent game but the Nats dropped Tuesday’s contest 5-1 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Washington couldn’t figure out right-handed pitcher Trevor Cahill (2-2, 3.70). He was in full command during his 7 and 1/3 inning start, striking out five and walking one, allowing the Nats to score just once. Skipper Davey Johnson had to rely upon his bench to get their sole run. Roger Bernadina managed a one-out, pinch hit double off right-handed reliever Bryan Shaw. That was it.
Zimmermann received his first bout of generous run support of this season last Wednesday in San Diego. The Nats beat the Padres 7-2. As the Nats third man in a solid five-man starting rotation, Zimmerman posted a 1-1, 1.33 ERA record in April giving up just four earned runs in 27 innings.
Despite the loss, Zimmermann posted a quality start. He pitched 6 and a 1/3 innings, gave up eight hits, four runs (three earned), struck out six and threw an intentional walk over 95 pitches (67 for strikes).The trouble started when Zimmermann gave up back-to-back hits to lead-off the seventh. A sacrifice fly moving the runners to second and third base soon followed. Then, with runners in scoring position and one out, Zimmermann issued an intentional walk. Enter relief pitcher Ryan Mattheus.
Mattheus entered the game with high stakes – bases loaded, one out, Diamondbacks up 2-0 – and hit the first batter he faced.
Diamondbacks 3, Nationals 0.
When the bats aren’t hitting, the bullpen’s got to be more consistent and reliable. It won’t be pretty if the Nats don’t start scoring early and often with their current bullpen. Their lack of depth due to injury will continue to cause problems if runs aren’t being scored.
What happened next in the game was the highlight of Harper’s Nats Park debut.
The 19-year-old nailed a perfect throw from close to 300 feet from left field to home plate. Umpire Jeff Nelson called the runner safe for the run but Harper’s attempt earned him a consensual round of noise from the stands. Fans weren’t pleased with the call but they were pleased with the effort, which is something that was apparent throughout the night.
Harper went 0-for-3 with one strikeout against Cahill on offense but converted four putouts on defense. It could’ve been worse. It’ll interesting to see just how many YouTube hits the video of that laser throw will yield. He’s got quite the cannon on him.