Results tagged ‘ Jordan Zimmermann ’

From the Desk of Mark D. Lerner

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Hello everyone.

Another summer of Nationals baseball is in the books.

Eighty-six wins and a late-season charge that both captivated and frustrated fans and players alike.

I have been asked by friends and fans how a team with such a talented roster could play sub-.500 baseball for four months – breaking our hearts – and then come back and play so well during the season’s final six weeks?

All I know is there is no ‘sure thing’ in our game and we were certainly reminded of that in 2013. Some might answer that baseball’s true beauty is rooted in its humility. I’m proud of the way this team struggled back to finish the season, going 32-16 in the last seven-plus weeks – giving us back our hope for 2014.

Here are a few of my final thoughts on this season:

  • Congratulations to Ian Desmond on his second consecutive 20-homer, 20-stolen base season. It is a joy to watch a true professional play at his level, day-in and day-out. From my seat, I see that he’s quickly becoming the best shortstop in baseball.
  • Jayson Werth led the Nationals late-season surge.

    Jayson Werth led the Nationals late-season surge.

    Jayson Werth’s stellar season should put him on a short, short list for National League Comeback Player of the Year. His return from last year’s gruesome left wrist injury is simply remarkable. I know from personal experience how seriously and with what care he treats his health – intense rehab and workouts, and near fanatical nutrition.

  • Wilson Ramos is a difference-maker in our lineup. His ironman streak of 24 consecutive starts behind the plate with seven home runs and 24 RBI was one of the major factors in bringing this team up in the standings.
  • It was disappointing that Jordan Zimmermann was not able to capture his 20th win last week at Busch Stadium, but that takes nothing away from a terrific ‘13 season. I would expect Jordan to capture some votes in the National League Cy Young Award voting.
  • While Denard Span’s 29-game hitting streak was memorable, I also think it meant he finally found his comfort level in D.C. and the National League. If you remember, Jayson coped with some of his own transition issues when he joined us in 2011 after a long tenure with the Phillies, but found his groove and became the team contributor that we see today.
  • We had our fair share of injuries and adversity in 2013. I would have loved to see one more month out of Werth, 130 total starts from Ramos, and for Bryce Harper to have avoided that right field wall at Dodger Stadium at the beginning of the season, but those were the cards we were dealt. That said, those injuries afforded Anthony Rendon, Taylor Jordan, Ian Krol and Tanner Roark the opportunity to showcase their talents over the long stretch. Both the team and the players will benefit from those innings on the field.
  • I’d be remiss if I did not thank Davey Johnson for an historic run as our manager. Who will ever forget the summer of 2012, when postseason baseball returned to The Nation’s Capital for the first time since 1933? I know I won’t. Thanks Davey for helping to author memories that will never fade.
  • Lastly, I want to thank not only those reading this blog, but all of our fans that stand behind this team on a daily basis. Attendance was up over 9% this season. TV ratings were fantastic. Your passion for Nats baseball is felt all the way to the clubhouse – I’ve even heard our players talk about it. Your enthusiasm reminds us all why this game matters.  Thank you!
Jordan Zimmerman's 19 wins paced the Nationals staff.

Jordan Zimmermann’s 19 wins paced the Nationals staff.

Mike Rizzo will soon begin interviews to find our next manager. With most of our young talent in place for the next several years, and a strong pitching foundation built around an accomplished rotation, I have to think we have an attractive position to offer. I know Mike has a working list of candidates in mind, but he’s also talking to executives from around the game that he respects. This search will be extensive and we expect he’ll deliver the right man for the job.

It’s my hope that many of you will be able to meet our new skipper at NatsFest in January. We will be rolling out the specifics on our signature offseason event shortly. And MLB’s Winter Meetings (December 9-12 in Orlando, FL) will be here in short time too. Almost time to fire up the Hot Stove.

Yes, I know we all just completed a grueling 162-game season, but my optimism is already on ‘high’ for 2014.

Mark

What to Watch for: 9.25.13

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Washington Nationals (84-74) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (93-65)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (19-7, 3.18) vs. RHP Shelby Miller (14-9, 3.12)

The Nationals played a different kind of spoiler on Tuesday night in St. Louis.

While they hit a handful of balls hard against Cardinals hard-throwing righty Michael Wacha, they found themselves without a hit after 26 outs, just one away from being no-hit. And although the Montreal Expos had suffered such a fate four times in their existence, the franchise had not had a no-hitter thrown against it since moving to Washington in 2005.

Ryan Zimmerman made sure it stayed that way.

His chopper off home plate lofted over Wacha’s head, grazing the tip of his mitt as it bounded up the middle of the infield. Shortstop Pete Kozma charged the ball, made a barehand stab and threw to Matt Adams at first. The ball tailed, pulling Adams off the bag, and Zimmerman strode through the bag, evading the first baseman’s attempted swipe tag. Safe.

“I was just using my blazing speed to try to get there as fast as I could,” joked Zimmerman after the game, his comments thick with sarcastic self-deprecation. “That’s baseball. Baseball’s weird. We hit the ball on the screws the whole night and that’s the one that breaks it up.”

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Jordan Zimmermann RHP

GOOD COMPANY

Jordan Zimmermann toes the rubber today in search of his 20th win, hoping to join Gio Gonzalez (21 wins in ‘12) on the short list of Nationals who have won 20 games. If Zimmermann pockets that 20th win, he’ll also move into a tie with Livan Hernandez (44) as the winningest pitcher in Nationals (‘05-present) history.

FOR WHAT IT’S WERTH

At .922, Jayson Werth currently weighs in with the third-best OPS total in the Nationals nine-year history. A closer look at the top 5 OPS campaigns turned in by Nationals:

PLAYER YEAR OPS
Nick Johnson 2006 .948
Adam Dunn 2009 .928
Jayson Werth 2013 .922
Alfonso Soriano 2006 .911
Michael Morse 2011 .910

AUCTION BENEFITTING VICTIMS OF WASHINGTON NAVY YARD SHOOTINGS

The Nationals are auctioning off game-worn, autographed patriotic jerseys in honor of the victims of the Washington Navy Yard shootings. Proceeds from the auction will benefit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which has committed to provide support and care for the families of the victims who died in our neighborhood’s tragedy. Please visit nationals.com/auction before the auction ends at 8:00pm ET on Thursday, September 26.

Highlights: 9.20.13

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9.20.13 – Nationals 8, Marlins 0

Stat of the Game: Jordan Zimmermann pitched a complete-game, two-hit shutout, giving him an NL-best 19 wins.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Anthony Rendon went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, while making several strong defensive plays at second base.

It Was Over When: The Nationals sent 11 men to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning, plating seven runs.

Signature Moments of 2013

With 86 wins in the books, the 2013 season had its share of lasting memories. We seeded the top 10 in our book, and after more than 6,500 votes, you determined the ultimate Signature Moment of the season. Relive each and every one in video form below.

SigMomentsBracketFINAL

A STORYBOOK BEGINNING | 4.1
On April 1, Bryce Harper’s first swing of the 2013 campaign connected with a hanging curveball out of Ricky Nolasco’s hand, soared 406 feet and landed in the right field seats. In his second at-bat, the defending National League Rookie of the Year punished another Nolasco breaking ball, again to right. He couldn’t have scripted a better start to his sophomore season.

ONE HIT WONDERS | 4.25 & 4.26
On April 25 against the Cincinnati Reds, Gio Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano combined to throw just the second one-hitter in the history of the young Nationals franchise, handing the Reds an 8-1 loss. The very next night, Jordan Zimmermann did all the work himself, needing just 91 pitches to finish a one-hitter of his own, his first-career shutout, 1-0. It was the first time since August 10-11, 1917 that a Washington-based baseball club had one-hit an opponent on consecutive days, when Walter Johnson and a trio of Senators did so to the Chicago White Sox.

LOMBO LIFTS NATS | 6.4
With the Nationals trailing 2-1 late against the New York Mets, the bats came alive with a two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning. Ryan Zimmerman led off the frame with a double and scored on a single by Adam LaRoche, who went to third on a double by Ian Desmond. After an intentional walk loaded the bases, Steve Lombardozzi worked a nine-pitch at-bat before lifting a sacrifice fly down the left-field line, just deep enough to score LaRoche for the Nats first walk-off win of the 2013 season.

THE WALKING DEAD | 6.19
Trailing most of the game on June 19 in Philadelphia, the Nationals bats awakened just in the nick of time to force extra innings and steal a win to end a long, grinding road trip. Jayson Werth, of the “be ready to eat some face” comment following the tough loss the night before, ripped a game-tying, two-out, RBI-single in the top of the ninth inning. In the 11th, the Nationals loaded the bases for Ian Desmond, who annihilated a hanging slider from Michael Stutes for his first career grand slam, giving the Nats a 6-2 win.

BRYCE IS BACK | 7.1
Exactly three months after the Nationals 2013 campaign began, Washington came to bat in the bottom of the first with Bryce Harper hitting third in its lineup – his first game back after missing more than a month due to injury. Harper took ball one, then rocketed a solo home run to put the Nationals in front, just as he did in his first at-bat on Opening Day.

RAMOS RETURNS | 7.4
After Wilson Ramos spent 44 games on the disabled list, his return to the Nationals lineup on July 4 couldn’t have come soon enough. Ramos plated a career-high five RBI (surpassing his previous high of three), capped by a three-run bomb in the seventh inning that broke open a tie game and helped lift the Nationals to an 8-5 Independence Day win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

WALK-OFF WONDERS | 7.25 & 7.26
On July 25, in a 7-7 tie with two outs and a runner on first in the bottom of the ninth, Bryce Harper ripped a line drive to deep left-center field, just clearing the #NATITUDE sign and dropping into the second row of the Red Porch for the first game-winning home run of his career. The very next night, in the second game of a doubleheader with the New York Mets, Ryan Zimmerman punished a high fastball over the out-of-town scoreboard to give the Nationals a 2-1 victory. It was his ninth-career walk-off home run, four shy of the Major League record.

ONE GRAND SWING | 8.10
Jayson Werth reached the 1,000-hit milestone in memorable fashion on August 10, in an 8-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. After a pair of singles in his second and third at-bats got him to 999, Werth was set up for a chance to reach the 1,000 mark in his next at-bat, which came in a tie game with a runner at first and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. The normally methodical Werth took no time to make his presence felt, jumping on the first pitch and wrapping it inside the left field foul pole for a go-ahead, two-run home run.

THE STRAS ‘SHO’ | 8.11
On August 11 against the Philadelphia Phillies, Stephen Strasburg completed his first Major League shutout in a 6-0 Nationals victory. Impressively, he combined the dominant power pitching with which he burst onto the scene in his first big league start, with the pitch-to-contact approach he has executed this season. Despite striking out 10 Philadelphia batters, the 25-year-old needed just 99 pitches and faced just 29 batters, two over the minimum.

“IT AIN’T OVER…” | 9.17
Following the tragic events of September 16 at the nearby Navy Yard, the mood was somber as the Nationals took on the Atlanta Braves in game one of a split doubleheader the next day. Down two in the bottom of the ninth against the seemingly unbeatable Craig Kimbrel, the Nats rallied for three runs to win the game, scoring the go-ahead and winning runs on a grounder by Denard Span that snuck between the legs of Atlanta shortstop Andrelton Simmons.

What to Watch for: 9.15.13

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Philadelphia Phillies (69-79) vs. Washington Nationals (78-70)

RHP Tyler Cloyd (2-4, 4.56) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (17-8, 3.36)

The Nationals saw their season-high seven-game winning streak come to an end Saturday night, but they can still take the series with a Sunday victory over the Phillies in the teams’ final meeting this season. Washington has already claimed the season series and owns a 26-19 record against their closest geographical division rivals under manager Davey Johnson. Jordan Zimmermann takes aim at his National League-leading 18th win against fellow right-hander Tyler Cloyd.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Jordan Zimmermann RHP

ATTENTION: SPAN

Denard Span went 3-for-5 with a career-high three stolen bases to extend his hitting streak to 25 straight games. Over that stretch, he is batting .387 with six walks, five doubles, two triples, two homers, 18 runs scored and seven RBI. Of Span’s eight multi-hit performances during the streak, he has tallied a four-hit game, six three-hit games, and a single two-hit effort. The streak is both the second longest in Major League Baseball this year (Michael Cuddyer, 27 games) and in the nine-year history of the Nationals (Ryan Zimmerman, 30-games, April 8-May 12, 2009).

NAT WERTH

Jayson Werth currently ranks among the National League’s top five in OPS (second, .933), slugging percentage (second, .536), batting average (fourth, .321) and on-base percentage (fifth, .397). Werth joins Andrew McCutchen as the only NL players to rank among the league’s top five in each of those four categories. Werth has hit better than .300 in July (.367), August (.380) and September (.308).

IRON MAN WITH THE MASK

Wilson Ramos has started a Nationals record 22 consecutive games behind the plate. With today’s start in the series finale against the Phillies, he will surpass Cardinals backstop Yadier Molina for the longest stretch of consecutive games started by a catcher in Major League Baseball this season.

What to Watch for: 9.11.13

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Washington Nationals (75-69) vs. New York Mets (64-79)

RHP Dan Haren (8-13, 5.23) vs. RHP Zack Wheeler (7-4, 3.38)

As Washington carries a four-game winning streak into tonight’s game in New York, two Nationals enter with notable streaks of their own. Denard Span’s third-inning double Tuesday night extended his hitting streak to 21 games. Not only is that both the longest run of his career and the longest by a National this season, it is also the second-longest in all of the Major Leagues this year, trailing only Michael Cuddyer’s 27-gamer.

Meanwhile, Wilson Ramos makes his 19th consecutive start tonight, a longer stretch than any catcher in Nationals history. After tonight, he will be just three games shy of tying Yadier Molina’s 22-game mark for the longest in baseball this year.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Bryce Harper LF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Dan Haren RHP

A WERTHY LEADING MAN

Jayson Werth homered and doubled twice in four at-bats on Tuesday, raising his batting average to .328 on the season. He currently ranks third in the National League batting race, trailing only Michael Cuddyer (.330), and Chris Johnson (.330). Werth leads the NL in OPS (.949) and slugging percentage (.548), and is fourth in on-base percentage (.401).

OH, TO BE 17 AGAIN

Jordan Zimmermann allowed three earned runs in 5.0+ innings of work, but left with the lead and recorded his National League-leading 17th win of the season. It was the first time in five tries that he beat the Mets in 2013, against whom he finishes just 1-3. In contrast, Zimmermann is 16-5 against the rest of the league.

BEAT THE METS

With two games remaining, Washington has already clinched the season series with the Mets, as the Nationals lead, 10 games to seven. Five lineup fixtures are batting better than .300 against New York, including Ian Desmond (.317), Bryce Harper (.303), Denard Span (.348), Jayson Werth (.333) and Ryan Zimmerman (.333).

What to Watch for: 9.10.13

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Washington Nationals (74-69) vs. New York Mets (64-78)

RHP Jordan Zimmermann (16-8, 3.30) vs. RHP Dillon Gee (11-9, 3.53)

On any other night, a shutout backed by five home runs in a 9-0 whitewashing of an opponent would be cause for celebration in any clubhouse. But on Monday night in Flushing, Gio Gonzalez was left wondering what might have been, if only for a couple of measly inches.

After walking Daniel Murphy, the second batter of the game, Gonzalez settled into a groove against the Mets, going on to set down the next 17 men he faced. Meanwhile, the offense continued to pile up runs behind him, as five different Washington hitters went deep, just one home run shy of the club record. By the time he took the mound after the seventh-inning stretch at Citi Field, Gonzalez had a nine-run advantage and just nine outs left to record the first no-hitter in Nationals history.

The Mets had double-switched Murphy – arguably their best hitter, and certainly the one who had done the most damage to the Nationals, batting at a .385 clip (25-for-65) with seven extra-base hits against Washington – out of the game. That left it to pinch-hitter Zach Lutz, who entered the game with all of 11 Major League plate appearances this year and 22 in his career.

Lutz slapped at a first-pitch fastball and hit a soft liner to the right side, just over the first base bag. Adam LaRoche went into an all-out dive, but came up just short of snagging the ball on the fly. As it escaped his grasp, it bounced on the chalk line, then skipped up the right field line, dashing Gonzalez’s hopes for history. The southpaw hardly let it affect the rest of his performance, though, walking just one more batter en route to his second career shutout and the low-hit game of his professional career.

Lutz

“It’s fun to be a part of something like that,” said Ryan Zimmerman, who homered in the first inning for his fourth roundtripper in the last three games. “It makes you want to make a play. Everyone wants to be a part of history.”

As for Gonzalez, what was his first thought when he saw Lutz’s liner escape LaRoche’s reach?

“Foul,” he joked, but later took the greater context in perspective. “It’s a bittersweet moment. You’re happy you got the win. The team did great, everybody looked alive today. It’s just a sad moment when you lose a no-hitter down the line.”

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Jayson Werth RF

4. Ian Desmond SS

5. Adam LaRoche 1B

6. Wilson Ramos C

7. Tyler Moore LF

8. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Jordan Zimmermann RHP

THE KING OF QUEENS

Gio Gonzalez allowed just one hit and two walks while striking out eight in his first shutout of the season and second of his career. Gonzalez joins Ramon Ortiz, Jason Bergmann, and Scott Olsen as the fourth pitcher in Nationals history (‘05-present) to take a no-hitter into the seventh inning. The shutout was the 10th by a Nationals pitcher since 2005 and just the second one-hit shutout in Nationals history, along with Jordan Zimmermann’s gem over the Reds on April 26 this season.

BIG (FLY) 5

The Nationals tied a 2013 single-game high by clubbing five home runs, including back-to-back shots by Denard Span and Ryan Zimmerman to lead off the game. The Washington club record for one game is six, last matched in back-to-back contests September 4-5, 2012 vs. the Cubs.

ATTENTION: SPAN

Denard Span has hit safely in a career-high 20 straight games at a .410 (34-for-83) clip with five walks, three doubles, two triples, two homers, 14 runs scored and seven RBI. Span’s surge has raised his batting average from .258 to .282, just one point off his career average. Span’s 20-game streak is the longest active streak and tied for the third-longest streak overall in Major League Baseball this season (Cuddyer – 27, Ortiz – 27, Freese – 20).

What to Watch for: 9.7.13

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Washington Nationals (71-69) vs. Miami Marlins (53-86)

RHP Tanner Roark (4-0, 1.19) vs. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (3-5, 3.40) 

Tanner Roark has found himself in the right place at the right time often in his first stint in the big leagues. He collected four wins in his first six appearances, all out of the bullpen. Of course, that isn’t to say he hasn’t earned the victories. The right-hander had allowed just three earned runs in 22.2 innings of work over nine outings, striking out 19 while walking just seven over that span. All of that led Davey Johnson to hand Roark the ball for his first big league start tonight in Miami.

In addition to his effectiveness, one other piece of statistical information stands out about Roark. He has needed just 313 pitches to record his first 68 outs as a Major Leaguer, a rate of 13.81 pitches per inning. The Major League leader among qualifying starters in that department in Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo at 14.13 P/IP, with Jordan Zimmermann leading Nationals starters at 14.54, seventh-lowest in the majors. Even with something around an 80-pitch limit tonight, if Roark can continue his efficient ways, he may still be able to give the Nationals five or six innings of work.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Denard Span CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Ian Desmond SS

6. Adam LaRoche 1B

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Anthony Rendon 2B

9. Tanner Roark RHP

ATTENTION: SPAN

Denard Span has hit safely in a career-high 17 straight games at a .406 (28-for-69) clip with five walks, three doubles, 2 triples, a homer, 11 runs scored and 5 RBI. Span’s surge has raised his batting average from .258 to .278. The leadoff man’s 17 game streak is the longest active streak in MLB and the longest by a National this season.

20-20 VISION

Ian Desmond – via his 20-homer, 18-stolen bag effort so far – is on the cusp of posting the third 20-homer, 20-stolen base season by a National. Washington’s previous two 20-20 campaigns came from Desmond himself (25 HR, 21 SB) in ‘12 and Alfonso Soriano (46 HR, 41 SB) in ‘06.

SECOND HARVEST

A quick look at the Nationals’ 3 farm clubs taking part in the MiLB Postseason:

• Harrisburg (AA) - Lead series vs. Erie (DET), 2-1 – Best-of-five series resumes tonight in Harrisburg.

• Potomac (A) - Swept Lynchburg (ATL), 2-0 – Will face Salem (BOS) for the Mills Cup Championship, starting Saturday night at Pfitzner Stadium.

• Hagerstown (A) - Series vs. West Virginia (PIT), tied at 1-1 – Best-of-three series concludes tonight in Hagerstown.

What to Watch for: 9.6.13

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Washington Nationals (71-68) vs. Miami Marlins (52-86)

RHP Dan Haren (8-12, 5.02) vs. RHP Jose Fernandez (10-6, 2.33)

The Nationals have won three-of-four, six-of-nine and 11 of their last 15 games as they head to Miami for a three-game weekend series against the Marlins beginning tonight. Washington will draw reigning back-to-back NL Rookie of the Month winner Jose Fernandez in the opener and will counter with Dan Haren, who is 4-1 with a save and a 3.30 ERA in his last eight outings (seven starts).

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Corey Brown CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B

3. Bryce Harper LF

4. Jayson Werth RF

5. Adam LaRoche 1B

6. Ian Desmond SS

7. Wilson Ramos C

8. Steve Lombardozzi 2B

9. Dan Haren RHP

‘MANN OF THE HOUR

Jordan Zimmermann earned his 16th win of the season, tied for the most in the National League, Wednesday night as Washington topped Philadelphia, 3-2, to claim the series victory. The right-hander allowed two earned runs on seven hits while striking out five with just one walk in 7.0 innings of work. He also gave himself the chance to earn the victory by keeping the game tied with a tremendous defensive play, ending the Phillies half of the seventh.

SERIES-LY SPEAKING

Via a 10-8 mark in 2007, the Nationals/Expos franchise has won only one season series from Miami since 1998. That streak can end with just a single win among the final six matchups between the two teams. Washington is 6-0 against the Fish at Nationals Park and 9-3 overall. Ryan Zimmerman’s 19 career homers against the Marlins are the most he’s hit against any other club (Atlanta – 17).

BETTER LATE

Dating to August 9, the Nationals rank among the National League leaders in OPS (first, .805), on-base percentage (first, .366), home runs (second, 27), walks (second, 98), and slugging percentage (second, .440). Washington has posted double-digit hit totals in 10 of the last 15 games.

Getting Defensive

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To this point in the season, Denard Span’s diving grab in deep left-center field at Nationals Park with two on and two out in the ninth on August 14 has been the signature defensive moment of the year. But Wednesday night in Philadelphia, the Nationals made not one, but two game-saving plays, with each coming from unlikely sources.

The Nationals had just scratched out a run in the top of the eighth to take a 3-2 lead, when, in the bottom half of the frame, the Phillies put runners at first and second with two outs. Speedy leadoff man Cesar Hernandez chopped a ball to the right side of the infield, which Adam LaRoche made a play for, but could not reach. Steve Lombardozzi was shifting to his left at a deeper angle and tracked the ball down on the lip of the outfield grass, but with LaRoche moving away from first, the only person left to cover the bag was pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. As the footrace to the base began, it became clear that if Washington couldn’t get the final out of the inning, John Mayberry Jr. was going to score the tying run from second. Zimmermann and Hernandez converged at first, as Lombardozzi’s throw came in low. The pitcher simultaneously found the bag with his right foot and picked the ball on a short-hop out of the dirt, beating the runner by a fraction of a step to end the frame.

“I was just hoping Lombo was going to hit me in the chest,” explained Zimmermann after the game, then took the chance to rib his teammate. “Instead, he threw it at my feet and made it interesting.”

As for the dig out of the dirt, Zimmermann credited the one man on the right side of the infield not in on the play, tongue still in cheek.

“I’ve gotta give a lot of credit to Rochey. He taught me everything I know.”

Even Zimmermann that he wasn’t looking at the ball all the way into his glove on the play, as the replay showed his head was “in the third deck” as he made the play. Craig Stammen, who would play a role in the second defensive gem of the night, wasn’t about to let his teammate off the hook so easily.

“I told him, ‘Nice play, you should have seen it,’” joked the right-hander, who came on to get the final two outs of the eighth.

Those two outs would come on the same play, but in truly unique, bizarre fashion. In fact, with all the baseball he’s seen in his 70 years on the planet, this one was new even to manager Davey Johnson.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever seen a double play that way,” he said.

With one out and runners at the corners, Stammen bounced a two-strike slider to Darin Ruf, who swung and missed for strike three. With a runner at first, Ruf could not attempt to advance, marking the second out of the frame. But the ball skipped away to catcher Jhonatan Solano’s left, with the runner, Chase Utley, breaking for home. Solano raced to corral the ball, in foul territory slightly up the third base line, but when he glanced up to see if Stammen was at the plate in time for the tag, he elected instead to try to make the play himself, diving towards Utley – who was diving toward the plate – and applying the tag to Utley’s midsection just before the runner’s hands crossed the plate.

Together, they formed two tremendous, non-traditional defensive gems, the first saving the go-ahead run from scoring and the second preventing the game-tying run from crossing the plate. They added up to a crucial victory, giving Washington the road series win in Philadelphia as they continue this crucial, three-city September road trip.

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