Washington nearly spoiled another tremendous start from Jordan Zimmermann, even after Harper’s first homer in nearly a month. In the 10th, though, they left no doubt. Ryan Zimmerman, announced as the National League player of the week Monday afternoon, followed Harper’s decisive single with a three-run double. Michael Morse supplied the final salvo, a two-run homer some 415 feet to right-center field.
“We’re a confident team,” Zimmerman said. “We know if we can hang around and give ourselves a chance, that’s all we need.”
When Zimmermann starts, they always have a chance. Zimmermann allowed one run over six innings on four hits and no walks, striking out six. He has pitched at least six innings in 20 of his starts this season, and he lowered his season ERA to 2.31.
Zimmermann is not only consistent. He is dominant, and he is fighting his way, perhaps, into the conversation for best starter not only on the Nationals’ staff, but also in the entire National League. He has allowed one or zero runs in six consecutive starts, punching up a 0.95 ERA over that span.
“You always want to carry it over to the next start, and I have a pretty good streak going right now,” Zimmermann said. “Everything’s been working, so hopefully it continues.”
But it would not have mattered if not for the final inning. The Nationals did not record a hit from the final out of the first inning until Adam LaRoche singled with one out in the ninth. Danny Espinosa erased him one batter later with a 4-6-3 double play.
Roger Bernadina, who entered the game 16 for his last 31, led off the 10th with a line-drive single to left off left-hander Tim Byrdak. After Sandy Leon could not get down a sacrifice bunt, he swung and chopped the ball back to Byrdak.
Byrdak spun and fired to shortstop Ruben Tejada to start a double play. But as Bernadina slid in to second, Tejada dropped the ball, and with no outs the Nationals had two men on base. Mark DeRosa’s failed sacrifice bunt brought Steve Lombardozzi to the plate, and he ripped a single to center. Up came Harper. The crowd hurled boos at him as he stepped into the box.
“Don’t roll over and turn it into a double play,” Harper said. “That was the only thing I was thinking up there. I was trying to get some backspin on something and just get it to the outfield, score the guy on third. In that situation, that’s all you try to do.”