BOSTON - The Nationals have been punchless against Red Sox starter Jon Lester today, putting up just one run and three hits through six innings.
Would things be different if Bryce Harper was in the lineup? We’ll never know.
We do know that without their top hitter (it’s still a little unbelievable that a 19-year-old is the Nats’ best position player right now) the Nats haven’t been able to get anything going today.
Their 2-5 hitters are a combined 0-for-11 with six strikeouts, three of which have come from Michael Morse, who has struck out in all three plate appearances today.
One of those Ks - the one in the third inning - looked questionable. Batting with the bases loaded following an intentional walk to Ryan Zimmerman, Morse took a 2-1 pitch which looked to be off the plate outside, only to have it called strike two. He then went down looking at a sinker two pitches later, on another close call.
Jordan Zimmermann has done a nice job of keeping the Nats in this ballgame, holding the Red Sox to two runs through six, with seven strikeouts.
A leadoff walk to Nick Punto came back to bite Zimmermann in the third when he came around to score with two outs, and a David Ortiz solo homer in the fourth provided Boston’s second run.
Update: A huge two-out, Green-Monster-scraping double from Danny Espinosa has put the Nats on top of Lester and the Red Sox 3-2 as we go to the bottom of the seventh.
Ian Desmond and Tyler Moore started the inning with back-to-back singled to left, and a double-steal put them both in scoring position.
Jesus Flores struck out swinging and Roger Bernadina failed miserably in his attempt to get a bunt down, popping a bunt up to first base, but Espinosa delivered a double to left that barely made contact with the Wall and would have been a lazy fly ball in any of the other 29 parks in the majors.
Here in Fenway, it’s a huge two-run knock that puts the Nats up by a run.
Update II: Zimmermann delivered yet another quality start, but he won’t be happy with the way he allowed the Sox to tie the game immediately after being handed a lead in the seventh.
The righty gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning and then, with the Nats playing the infield back with runners at second and third and one out, Scott Podsednik tied things up with an RBI ground out to short.
It’s 3-3 as we go to the eighth.