The night was almost overshadowed by the fact that outfielder Bryce Harper was back in the Washington lineup for the first time since April 25 but, instead, a five-run rally in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies highlighted what the Nationals are capable of if their starting nine stay off the disabled list.
Washington faced rookie Rockies pitcher Yohan Flande in his second career start and struggled to make any offensive noise against him as they settled in during the early innings. On the other hand, the Nats’ starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann held command of the game while waiting for his team’s hitting to cut through somehow. Zimmermann threw six innings and gave up two runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking a batter. He threw 87 pitches and 60 strikes.
Zimmermann would go on to earn his sixth win of the season but not before Colorado stirred up a little trouble. Washington took an early one run lead in the fourth inning when third baseman Ryan Zimmerman scored on a two-out single hit by Harper but that minuscule lead didn’t last long.
In his final inning of work, Zimmermann gave up three straight hits (two doubles and a single) allowing Colorado to take a 2-1 lead. Zimmermann closed the inning without surrendering anymore runs but the question remained – would the Nats bounce back or would they drop the first game of this series?
The flood gates broke open for Washington in the bottom half of the sixth inning and the game took a turn. A five-run rally in which the Nats batted around their order was exactly what they needed to win just as long as they could hold on to the lead. In that half inning alone, Washington managed to tally those five runs on three hits, three walks (one intentional), and a hit batter.
Zimmerman, who went 3-for-4 on the night, spearheaded the rally with a RBI-double that tied up the game. Colorado proceeded to intentionally walk Harper, thereby bringing shortstop Ian Desmond to the plate with the teams tied 2-2. Desmond has a spectacular night and was even named player of the game for his offensive work in the sixth. Desmond started with a double and proceed to steal third before reaching home on an infield fielder’s choice play which, according to Manager Matt Williams, was the most impressive part of the entire string of plays Desmond was a part of that inning.
Both Colorado and Washington would tack on one more run before the end of the game but a strong offensive outburst in the sixth inning was what it took to secure win number forty four of the season; Nats 7, Rockies 3.