Instant Analysis: Nats 3, Mets 0

Instant Analysis: Nats 3, Mets 0
September 11, 2013, 10:00 pm
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Game in a nutshell: For the third straight night, the Nationals got a dominant performance from their starting pitcher early against the depleted Mets lineup, with Dan Haren tossing six scoreless innings of 1-hit ball. But they couldn’t breathe easy, stymied for five innings by rookie Zack Wheeler before Ryan Zimmerman clubbed a solo homer in the sixth. Anthony Rendon’s two-out, two-run double in the eighth provided some much-needed cushion — and represented the Nats’ first hit in nine tries with a man in scoring position — and the bullpen took over from there to secure the club’s fifth straight win. The Nationals have now won 22 of their last 31 games, but with the Reds’ earlier win against the Cubs, they remain 6 games back in the NL Wild Card race with 17 to play.

Hitting highlight: It’s been a disappointing season for Zimmerman, both offensively and defensively, but he’s shown some significant improvements in both areas of late. At the plate, Zim has suddenly rediscovered his power stroke, blasting seven homers in his last nine games. Incredibly, he just went through a stretch when his last six hits all were home runs. In the field, Zimmerman also has started producing highlight-reel plays on a nightly basis. Most impressive, though, is his throwing accuracy and velocity, which have improved by leaps and bounds over the last month or so. Perhaps that surgically repaired shoulder finally is healed. The on-field evidence certainly suggests it.

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