The Nationals grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning tonight on Ryan Zimmerman’s two-out solo home run off Orioles starter Chris Tillman, the ball traveling to the visiting bullpen in left-center field.
Tillman struck out Roger Bernadina on a changeup before Zimmerman unloaded on a 93 mph fastball.
Tillman has allowed at least one home run in his last five starts, and eight total during that span.
The second inning went a bit smoother for Tillman. Ian Desmond reached on an infield hit, but Tyler Moore grounded into a double play.
Tillman threw 22 pitches in the first inning, 11 in the second.
Before the game, Orioles manager Buck Showalter reiterated that Kevin Gausman will start Sunday against the Tigers at Camden Yards.
“He’s pitching against Detroit,” Showalter said.
“I talked to Gaus a little bit already. I talk to all of them over the course of the day. He’s a mature guy. He’s going to seek his level. It’s a process. We get so bogged down in the results instead of the process sometimes. The results are pretty easy to figure out. It’s where they are in the process. You look in their eye. Maybe it’s (Ryan) Flaherty before we sent him out to get some at-bats. This guy needs to get that look out of his eye a little bit.
“For Gaus, this is a good experience. It’s challenging, though. It’s the big leagues. You’re not picking the worst team in the Midwest League. It’s the Tigers, it’s the Nationals, it’s Toronto. And down the road there’s another one. It’s the big leagues. That’s the way it is. You don’t pick the perfect situation.
“He’ll be fine. He’ll seek his level. As long as I’m seeing certain things, I’m fine with it. Some of our better options are in the middle of the process somewhere else.
“I talked to him today, see if it was different than the last time I talked to him. He’s fine.”
Flaherty is starting at second base tonight after being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk earlier in the day, with Yamaico Navarro being optioned.
“We sent him down there for 10 days of at-bats and he got them,” Showalter said. “He’s eligible today. And talking to R.J. (Tides manager Ron Johnson) yesterday and today down in Norfolk, he was doing real well. Things were going well for him. We wanted to get him back. He’s playing real good defensively down there like he did here.
“Yami did a nice job for us. He’ll go down there and play some different positions and continue to be an option for us. Challenge him to pick up where he left off. You can see why they think well of him offensively, too.”
“(Flaherty) hit a home run yesterday to left-center field. He handled the breaking ball a little better. We’ll see how it plays. The good thing about him is, he’s defending, and that’s something that’s big for us, like it is for everybody.”
Flaherty definitely gets the edge defensively over Navarro.
“They’re both capable defenders,” Showalter said. “I’m not going to critique one versus the other. Obviously, we all have our opinion on that.
“Ryan has done a good job with the double play at second base. He spent a lot of time in the spring. We’ll see if it continues. He was good up here before he left. We just wanted to see him get some at-bats. I think he had close to 30. That’s the only way you can do it. Send him down there.
“Flash understands this isn’t an open-ended ticket. The one thing I want to see is him be a consistent force for us defensively. One of the better pitchers in the National League (Jordan Zimmermann) is pitching tonight. He’s really good. If he doesn’t square up every pitch, I give him a little leeway.”
Flaherty turned a double play in the second inning with Desmond barreling down on him. That’s a big reason why he’s back up here.
Update: Flaherty doubled with two outs in the second to score Chris Davis and tie the game 1-1.
Davis and Matt Wieters singled with one out. J.J. Hardy popped up, but Flaherty almost tore the cover off the ball while ripping a liner down the right field line.
Davis has scored a run in eight straight games, three short of Frank Robinson’s club record. He also extended his hitting streak to eight games, tying his season high.
Wieters has eight hits in his last 13 at-bats.