The Nationals win, 6-5, to improve their record to 2-3-2. They just barely won. They scored a run and loaded the bases with two outs off Jeremy Accardo. If not for a great diving stop from Wil Rhymes, an infield single would have turned into a game-tying outfield single with two outs. Instead, Accardo got Elmer Reyes to tap back to him and end the game.
The Nationals lead, 6-4, after they torched Braves reliever Corey Rasmus for five runs in the eighth. Carlos Rivero provided the key blow, a bases-loaded, three-run triple off the left-center field fence.
Two firsts in the bottom of the sixth: Tyler Clippard pitched, and Anthony Rendon played shortstop
Clippard made quick work in a 1-2-3, nine-pitch inning. Juan Francisco skied a flyout to the warning track in center field. Christian Bethancourt struck out, swinging way ahead of Clippard’s trademark changeup. Ramiro Pena flied out to left. A strikeout on a changeup and two fly outs is vintage Clippard.
Rendon played only third in the minors last season, but already the Nationals have moved him all around the infield. It seems as though the Nationals want him prepared at all spots in case of an injury this season, and because they could ask him to fill any spot in the future. He looks like a possible star, but with Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond all entrenched, the answer is still, where?
B.J. Upton absolutely tattooed a Ross Ohlendorf fastball off the left field fence in the fifth inning. Hard to tell which noise was louder — the ball off the bat or the ball smacking off the base of the fence. Two runs scored, but the Nationals executed well. Corey Brown corralled the ball and fired to shortstop Danny Espinosa, who threw a seed home to Sandy Leon. Jason Heyward slid in just ahead of the tag, and Upton scooted to third. Braves up, 4-1.
Jordan Zimmermann is done for the night after his prescribed three innings. He had some sharp moments, particularly striking out B.J. Upton on a nice fastball-change-fastball sequence. His line: 3 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 4 K. He threw 49 pitches, 39 strikes.
END 3: This inning was vintage Zimmermann. He was efficient and effective. He got Justin Upton to groundout to Danny Espinosa at shortstop. He then massaged a pop up out of Freddie Freeman to Chad Tracy in foul territory. And then, with only three pitches (fastball, slider, fastball), sat down B.J. Upton. This likely could it for him for the night. Braves, 2-1.
END 2: The right-hander pounded the strike zone and the Braves swung. He allowed three hits that frame — Juan Francisco, Christian Bethancourt and Reed Johnson — and one run. Of his 35 pitches, 29 of them have been strikes. Braves lead, 2-1.
END 1: Bryce Harper skied a 0-1 pitch from righty Julio Teheran and the wind carried it out just over the left field fence. Harper’s batting practice today was, to say the least, impressive.
In the bottom of the frame, Jordan Zimmermann fired a 94 mph fastball at Jason Heyward, who hit it further out to left field to tie the score. Zimmermann used his work-in-progress change-up a few times that inning and saw between 93 and 94 mph on his fastball. He allowed a single to Justin Upton but struck out two. Nats tied, 1-1.
PREGAME: Davey Johnson has a method to his madness. Danny Espinosa is playing shortstop tonight. Bryce Harper is back in center field. Why? It’s a contingency plan.
In case of any injury to Ian Desmond, Espinosa is the first back-up. (And, Espinosa, a former shortstop, loves when he plays the position, too.) Steve Lombardozzi would then play second base, where is playing tonight.
And for Harper? Denard Span is a “high energy” player, as Johnson put it, and if he needs a day off, Harper is his back-up in center field. Johnson also explained that if there was a tough left-handed pitcher and he wanted to go with a right-handed outfielder, he might play Harper in center field and put Tyler Moore in left field. (Side note: Span does hit lefties well.)