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Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 07/24/2012

Ryan Zimmerman makes the clutch play he couldn’t Friday


Friday night, the Nationals completed their collapse against the Braves on the back of Ryan Zimmerman’s mistake. With Tom Gorzelanny on the mound in the 11th inning of a tie game, he ranged to his left to make a fabulous stop, but he spun and flung an off-line, wild throw wide of Adam LaRoche. It put the winning run on second base, and that run would provide the difference. “That’s the play,” Zimmerman said afterward. “I would do it again if I had the same opportunity.”

The same opportunity came again Monday night. In the ninth inning of a tie game, with the walk-off run on second base and Gorzelanny on the mound, Jason Bay hit a groundball to Zimmerman’s left. He lunged to field the ball, and as he twisted he had a decision to make. He could hold the ball and guarantee to hold Daniel Murphy at second base, or he could try to make the same the same spinning throw that foiled the Nationals on Friday.

“I throw it every time,” Zimmerman said afterward. “I told you guys that’s what I do.”

Zimmerman let the ball go, and the throw sailed into LaRoche’s glove, moving the game to extra innings. The play was not as hard as the one from Friday – since he was not guarding the line last night, as he was Friday, he had more time to make the throw. But his willingness to make such a similar play provided another glimpse of his confidence in his own ability.

“That’s a play I feel like I should make,” Zimmerman said. “And tonight I did, the other night I didn’t. That’s how the game is. It’s going to keep putting you in the same situations, and you just have to trust yourself. And Gorz was pitching, too, so it was pretty funny.”

Zimmerman had a good defensive night all around. He ended the sixth inning, and guaranteed Jordan Zimmermann a shot at the win, with one of his trademark plays. Jordany Valdespin broke his bat as he dribbled a slow roller toward third base. Zimmerman charged, barehanded the ball and made a sidearm throw, his knuckles nearly scraping the ground.

But his most important play came in the ninth, when he trusted himself and made the play he couldn’t three nights prior.

“You’ve made those plays before,” Zimmerman said. “You just have to concentrate on kind of spinning and picking up the target as quick as you can, because you don’t have much time.

“It’s a play I’ve made a number of times. I just didn’t make it that one time.”

FROM THE POST

Bryce Harper sparked the Nationals’ six-run 10th to give the Nationals an 8-2 win in New York.

FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL

Brown returns, Bernadina in lineup

Flores sits again

Zimmerman named player of week

Dempster’s possible impact

Harper rest?

Nats counting on Espinosa

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Norfolk 6, Syracuse 1: On rehab, Jayson Werth went 0 for 3 and Chad Tracy went 1 for 3 with a strikeout. Carlos Rivero went 2 for 3 with a double.

Harrisburg 5, New Hampshire 1: Chien-Ming Wang allowed no runs in 6 1/3 innings on two hits and no walks, striking out six. Brian Goodwin went 0 for 4 with a walk. Jeff Kobernus went 3 for 4 with a walk. Destin Hood went 3 for 4 with a double.

Lynchburg 5, Potomac 0: Adrian Sanchez went 1 for 4 with a double. Michael Taylor, who had hits in eight consecutive at-bats over the weekend, was named the Carolina League player of the week. Nathan Karns, who allowed no hits in six innings in his last start, was named the pitcher of the week.

Hagerstown 5, Lakewood 4: Matthew Skole went 3 for 5 with a home run and a walk. Billy Burns went 2 for 4 with a walk. Caleb Ramsey went 3 for 5.

Jamestown 9, Auburn 6: Tony Renda went 2 for 4 with a walk. Taylor Jordan allowed five runs in one inning on five hits and a walk, striking out one.

Jamestown 19, Auburn 2: Carlos Lopez went 1 for 2 with a double and a walk. Jack McGeary allowed three runs in one inning on two hits and four walks.

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 07/24/2012

 
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