Someone needs to give the Washington Nationals’ (65-64) equipment manager a promotion, because it looks like he packed their bats for this road trip.
The Nats kept slugging today, winning their fifth in a row and breaking .500 for the first time since July 14th, in a 7-2 win over the Kansas City Royals (64-64).
Jordan Zimmermann went a great seven and two-thirds innings, the Nationals’ 1-8 hitters each reached base at least once, and the 1-7 hitters each scored one run as they battered Royals starter Wade Davis.
The Nationals are finally back above .500, and a Braves loss put them a not-shameful 12 games back in the division. Unfortunately, a Reds win kept the Nats 8.5 games back in the Wild Card race. Winning 11 of 15 has brought the Nats back from the dead, although postseason hopes remain extremely weak.
The Nats hinted at what was to come against Davis in the top of the first. Denard Span led the inning off with a single, and Ryan Zimmerman moved him to third with his own single, although he was thrown out at second. Bryce Harper scored Span with the third consecutive single, and Wilson Ramos hit a grounder up the middle that nearly made it through but ended up as a pretty double play for the Royals.
The Nats went down in order in the second and third, while three singles and an RBI from Eric Hosmer tied the game. Zimmermann was laboring, having allowed five hits in just three innings. But just like Friday night, the bats came to life in a big fourth inning.
A leadoff walk and a double set up a Ramos sacrifice fly that gave the Nats a 2-1 lead. After another flyout, the Royals made the mistake of intentionally walking Adam LaRoche to get to the hotter-than-the-surface-of-the-sun Tyler Moore. His RBI double scored another run and made him 10-19 (.526) since his recall from Triple-A Syracuse.
To cap the frame off, Chad Tracy blooped a single to right that scored two runs and put the Nats up 5-1.
Zimmermann continued to subdue the Royals despite allowing two more hits in the bottom of the fourth, and Ian Desmond topped off Davis’ rough day by destroying a two-run homer that put the Nats up by six. Davis’ final line: 6 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 4 K.
Zimmermann settled down as the game wore on, throwing a perfect sixth and seventh, but ran into some trouble in the eighth. He was yanked with two outs after allowing a walk and an infield single, and Fernando Abad allowed an inherited runner to score before shutting it down. With the damage prevented, Zimmermann ended up allowing just two runs, albeit on eight hits, in seven and two-thirds innings while striking out seven.
For what feels like the first time all season, a Nat threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning, albeit in a five-run game.
Tyler Clippard got two pop-outs and a fly-out to seal the game. With his 2.01 ERA, could he get a shot to close in the near future? Perhaps that chance might come in tomorrow’s series finale, as the Nats gun for the sweep behind Dan Haren (8-11, 4.64) against Ervin Santana (8-7, 3.13).