Battling against Young, coming up large late

FLUSHING, N.Y. - Chris Young’s fastball tops out at about 85 mph.

He doesn’t have a dazzling curveball or possess any dynamite secondary pitch. Still, he manages to keep the Nationals at bay.

Including tonight’s seven-inning performance in which he allowed just two runs, Young has pitched to a 3.00 ERA over 18 innings against the Nats this season.

“Chris pitched against us the last few times and he’s been tough,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “He’s done a great job keeping that ball right where he’s the best. It looks so good and then you pop it up continuously. So it’s tough and frustrating, but you’ve got to give him credit for pitching his game and making us adjust to him.”

Young’s fastball might not be, well, fast, but it does have a lot of late movement up in the zone, making it tough for guys to square it up.

“It’s that riseball,” Bryce Harper said. “You look at it, and it looks like a good pitch to hit. Then, it’s over your head and you can’t catch up to it. A high fastball is the hardest pitch to hit. He’s really deceptive because he’s tall, too. He’s 80-percent fastballs. You try to get something you can drive.”

Harper got something he could drive in the top of the 10th, when he ripped a Pedro Beato pitch to right-center with the bases loaded and one out. The single brought in the game-winning run and got a big late rally started.

“Don’t roll over and turn it into a double play,” Harper said of his approach in the 10th. “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.”

zimmerman red throwing sidebar.jpgThe Nats might not have gotten to the 10th if not for a really sharp defensive play by Zimmerman in the bottom of the ninth, which ended a potential game-winning rally.

With Daniel Murphy on second and two outs in a 2-2 game, Jason Bay ripped a grounder into the hole on the left side. Zimmerman moved to his left to glove the ball, spun around and fired a strike to first for the out.

“You’ve made those plays before,” Zimmerman said. “You just have to concentrate on kind of spinning and picking up the target as quick as you can, because you don’t have much time.”

It was nearly a carbon copy of the spinning play Zimmerman made in the 11th inning against the Braves on Friday night, in which his throw was off target and up the first base line, allowing the eventual game-winning run to score. This time, Zimmerman’s toss was right on the money, ending the Mets’ threat.

“I throw it every time,” Zimmerman said. “I told you guys (after the error against Atlanta) that’s what I do. That’s a play I feel like I should make. And tonight I did, the other night I didn’t. That’s how the game is. It’s going to keep putting you in the same situations, and you just have to trust yourself.”

The Nats and Mets have played some tight games this season, with seven of their 10 contests either ending in extra innings or being decided by two runs or fewer. Tonight was no different.

“They know us, we know them,” Michael Morse said. “So we know what they’re capable of doing late into games and we know what we’re capable of doing. It’s a good battle.”

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