“Bryce is better than me right now,” Zimmerman said. “I’d walk him, too.”
Zimmerman delivered the key hit, a bases-clearing double that let the Nationals cruise to a 7-4 victory at Turner Field that stretched their division lead over second-place Atlanta to two games. The Nationals’ four-run first inning gave them enough cushion to survive Ross Detwiler’s laborious 41
3 innings before Chien-Ming Wang restored order and added drama to the Nationals’ pitching picture.
In the end, Zimmerman’s second double off Hudson — a right-hander whom he previously had one extra-base hit against in 48 career plate appearances — provided the difference to one of the Nationals’ biggest wins in years.
“That’s why they have me in the lineup where I am,” Zimmerman said. “I’m supposed to get hits like that.”
After Detwiler allowed three runs on five hits and four walks, Wang made the sixth relief appearance of his career and fired three strong innings to earn the win — and to state his case that he deserves Detwiler’s spot in the rotation. Detwiler has allowed 16 earned runs in his past 201
3 innings over four starts, and Manager Davey Johnson indicated he would consider switching him and Wang.
“Yes and no,” Johnson said. “I don’t make any decisions right after a ballgame. Emotions are running pretty high.”
Wang retired eight of the 11 batters he faced, his biggest mistake coming on a home run by Jason Heyward. Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard recorded the final five outs to give the Nationals the early edge in the series.
The victory gave the Nationals more than a typical upper hand in the series. After the Nationals beat their nemesis in the first game of the series, they get to send Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez — their top two starters and two of the best this year in the majors — to the mound to try for the sweep.
“I like the way we’re set up,” Johnson said.
Wang allowed two inherited runners to score but fired three strong innings to earn the win — and to make a bid for Detwiler’s spot in the rotation.
Through an interpreter, Wang said he had not heard anything other than he will stay in the bullpen. But he impressed his teammates, frequently hitting 94 mph with his sinker. He said he feels stronger now than during spring training, when Nationals officials considered him one of their top three starters.