After a long road trip filled with disappointing losses, the Washington Nationals (25-23) celebrated their homecoming with a solid 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Nationals have been waiting for their injury-riddled lineup to come alive, and the bats showed signs of stirring in the 53-degree weather on Friday night. The offense put together 10 hits to score their five runs, and after scoring only nine runs in their last five games, five in one game felt colossal.
Four of those runs were scored in the fifth inning, which tied the Nationals’ season high for runs scored in a single inning. Bryce Harper, Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Moore all singled, but Adam LaRoche and Steve Lombardozzi highlighted the frame.
LaRoche hit an almost home run into the wind, which he stunningly turned into a triple to bring home Ryan Zimmerman and regain the lead from Philadelphia. It was just the 11th triple of LaRoche’s 10-year career.
After Suzuki’s RBI-single, Lombardozzi claimed the next RBIs of the inning with a two-run double to solidify the Nationals’ lead and bring home all the runs they would need to secure the win. Lombardozzi led the overall offensive charge of the night, going 3-for-4.
On the mound, Jordan Zimmermann continued to dominate, though it wasn’t his most seamless of starts. He threw seven complete innings, and gave up six hits and two earned runs with one strikeout.
He allowed one earned run in the second inning off a Domonic Brown single, and another in the fifth off an Erik Kratz sacrifice fly. But all five of the other frames Zimmermann pitched were 1-2-3 innings, and he threw a total of only 92 pitches.
Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano each had 1-2-3 innings in the eighth and ninth, respectively, to close out the win for Zimmermann, making him the first National League pitcher to reach eight wins.
Despite the encouraging show of offense, the Nats still failed to make the most of certain opportunities they were handed, and left nine men on base. The most egregious offense came in the third inning when they loaded the bases on three walks to Harper, Zimmerman and LaRoche, but failed to fully capitalize, scoring only one run on an Ian Desmond sac fly.
Another unfortunate situation that kept the Nats from scoring occurred in the fourth inning. An error put Moore on second base to lead off the inning, but after Lombardozzi singled, Moore was waved home by third base coach Trent Jewett, and was tagged out after barreling into Kratz, the Phillies’ catcher.
However, overall the Nationals’ bats were much more lively in their home ballpark, and they were able to string hits together in a way they had not been doing much of lately. Maybe the return to the familiar was just what they needed to get their offense back on track.
Note: With Danny Espinosa out of the lineup with a broken bone in his right wrist, the Nationals will need to make a roster move to replenish their already shortened bench. Manager Davey Johnson said they will likely be designating pitcher Yunesky Maya for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster to call up Jeff Kobernus, who is hitting .333 at Triple-A Syracuse.