For the second straight night, a Nationals starter is getting the job done against the Mets despite having some command issues.
Last night, Gio Gonzalez walked five and was frustrated by his inability to locate his pitches, but he still worked six innings and allowed just a single run.
Tonight, Jordan Zimmermann has walked three through four innings and has needed 83 pitches to get to this point, but he’s thrown four scoreless frames.
The Nats lead the Mets 1-0 thanks to Ryan Zimmerman’s sacrifice fly in the first, which plated Jayson Werth with the game’s only run to this point.
Werth, who has dominated Mets starter R.A. Dickey over his career, led off the game with a single. He then moved to third on a double by Bryce Harper, who has not exactly dominated Dickey this season, and scored on Zimmerman’s sac fly.
Werth came into tonight batting .440 with a 1.300 OPS against Dickey, and those numbers have only gone up as he’s reached all three times he’s come to the plate, singling and walking twice. Harper, who entered the ballgame 0-for-10 with six strikeouts off Dickey, is 3-for-3 with a double.
The Nationals could have a larger lead at this point, but they’re 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position through 4 1/2.
Zimmermann has made the one run they have scored stand up so far, even if he hasn’t been at his sharpest.
Update: The Mets finally got to Zimmermann in the fifth, tallying two runs on two softly-hit balls which were well placed.
With a runner on, Daniel Murphy flared a ball down the left-field line, and it dropped just inside the chalk. Ruben Tejada came all the way around to score from first and Murphy ended up standing on second with a double. One batter later, David Wright grounded a single just beyond the reach of a diving Ian Desmond, bringing Murphy in from second to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.
Zimmermann has thrown 104 pitches through five and is almost certainly done for the night. Not a terrible outing for the righty, but he allowed nine baserunners over five innings, elevated his pitch count early and sees his ERA back above 3.00 (it stands at 3.01) as a result.
Update II: Tyler Moore came in to pinch hit with a runner on in the seventh, saw one pitch from Dickey, and deposited it in the left field seats.
Moore’s pinch-hit shot gives the Nats a 3-2 lead. It’s his ninth homer of the season, and boy, was it a big one.
Update III: More excellent work from the Nationals bullpen and some late offense helped lift the Nats to a 5-3 win.
Tom Gorzelanny, Christian Garcia, Michael Gonzalez and Drew Storen combined to work three hitless innings and the Nats scored four times in the final three innings to turn a 2-1 deficit into a three-run lead.
Moore’s homer in the seventh was huge, and the Nats tacked on two more in the ninth to give Clippard some breathing room. The insurance runs proved to be large, as Clippard surrendered a solo homer to Scott Hairston before notching his 31st save.
The Nats’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot is down to eight and their magic number to clinch the NL East is now 14.