Sports Fix, The Features

Nats Fall To Fish As Zimmermann Can’t Right The Ship

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‘not too happy’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99’

The Washington Nationals are last in the National League East for the first time since June 14. They descended to this low point after losing 11-2 to the Florida Marlins Tuesday night in front of 24,650 on a relatively pleasant night (in meteorological terms, anyway) at Nationals Park. The loss is the seventh the Nats have suffered in their ten games since the All-Star break and this particular performance should choke out whatever life was left in any hope that Washington could make a surprise run up the National League Wild Card standings. It is true that the Nationals only have the sixth-worst record in the National League and are still only four games under .500 (49-53 after Tuesday night), but if their recent run of form is any guide, the relatively fertile period of mid-June has turned out to be a mirage and the club is regressing dangerously.

The tone for the evening was set by starter Jordan Zimmermann, who gave up a triple to the second batter of the game, Omar Infante. The Florida second baseman went on to score on an RBI groundout by Greg Dobbs, the first of five runs that Dobbs would drive in over the course of the evening. Zimmermann has been very, very good throughout this season for the Nationals, but he was off tonight, particularly in the first five innings. He was leaving far too many of his pitches up in the strike zone, and the Marlins treated his offerings with the contempt they deserved, banging out seven hits in the first five innings, with four going for extra bases. Even more disconcerting were the two hit batsmen on Zimmermann’s record, as many as he’d hit all season entering Tuesday night. Arguably the biggest moment in the game came with two out in the third inning, when Zimmermann hit Hanley Ramirez with an 0-1 fastball with the score already 2-0 in Florida’s favor after Zimmermann had coaxed a 4-6-3 double play out of Dobbs, with Emilio Bonifacio crossing the plate in the process. Two pitches to Logan Morrison later, the Nationals were behind 4-0 and Morrison was circling the bases after depositing his 16th home run of the season into the Nationals bullpen.

In fairness to Zimmermann, he has now pitched 126.2 innings this season, by far the most in his major league career, and with his much-noted 160-inning limit fast-approaching, it would not be in the least surprising to either see more outings like this one or to see him handled much more gently and with a much shorter leash.

The Nationals offense, true to usual form, was about as exciting to watch as molasses. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Walk-off Wall Banger From An Unlikely Hero Propels Nats Over Pirates

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courtesy of ‘Lane 4 Imaging’

What is the best thing for a team that has gone through a traumatic week it after having to replace the manager and then suffer through a terrible road trip, culminating in a sweep 3000 miles away?

A win.

That wish was fulfilled in Davey Johnson’s first home game as the manager of the Washington Nationals on Friday night at Nats Park with a 2-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Tom Gorzelanny was brilliant for seven innings and an unlikely hero provided some walk-off flair to lifts the spirits of Nats Town.

With the game tied at one in the bottom of the ninth, Johnson called on the oldest player sitting on his bench, 43-year-old Matt Stairs, to pinch hit for shortstop Ian Desmond with runners on first and third. All Stairs need to do was hit it out of the infield, either via pop-fly or a dribbler through the infield. For a guy with a .148 batting average through 54 at bats this season, not only was that a difficult task, but seemingly impossible. First day in front of the home fans, with the critical Washington press corps about to invade his office after the game and Johnson is putting in Matt Freaking Stairs?

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