Nats respond from Braves sweep

Nats respond from Braves sweep
April 15, 2013, 9:45 pm
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Game in a nutshell: Honoring the victims of today's attack in Boston with a moment of silence before first pitch and honoring Jackie Robinson by having everybody in uniform wear No. 42 for the night, the Nationals and Marlins played tonight what in the grand scheme certainly felt like an insignificant ballgame. But play they did, and the Nationals used the opportunity to take out their frustrations from a weekend sweep at the hands of the Braves. They jumped all over Wade LeBlanc, scoring four runs in the first, two more in the third, two more in the fourth and another two in the fifth to open up a 10-0 lead. That was far more support than Jordan Zimmermann needed. The right-hander cruised early on and was given the opportunity by Davey Johnson to go the distance for the first time in his career. He wound up with his first complete-game victory in the big leagues, dispatching the Marlins on 103 pitches.

Hitting highlight: It hasn't been a banner couple of weeks for Ryan Zimmerman, who in addition to committing three errors in the field entered this game with a .220 batting average and zero homers. Perhaps this performance well help get him back on track. Zimmerman pounced on LeBlanc for a two-run single in the top of the first, helping the Nationals open up a commanding early lead. Three innings later, he stepped to the plate to face right-hander John Maine (who had just been summoned from the Miami bullpen) and immediately crushed the first pitch he saw into the Clevander bar beyond the left field fence for his long-awaited first home run of 2013. Nothing like the Marlins pitching staff to cure what ails you, huh?

Pitching highlight: How fearsome is a Marlins lineup that entered tonight batting a collective .204 with a paltry .262 slugging percentage? Not very. Now take Giancarlo Stanton out of that lineup. Is it any wonder Zimmermann was licking his chops the moment he took the mound for this one? The right-hander absolutely cruised early on, retiring the first 10 batters he faced and completing five innings while facing the minimum on a scant 48 pitches. Zimmermann did start to fade a bit as the evening wore on, giving up a couple of runs in the sixth and another in the seventh, but the combination of his low pitch count and the Nationals' big lead offered some extra rope. So there was Zimmermann taking the mound for the ninth inning for the first time in 84 career starts, and he indeed finished what he started, improving to 3-0 in the process.

Key stat: Not only are the Nationals 4-0 against the Marlins, but they've now outscored Miami 21-4 in those four games.

Up next: The series continues Tuesday night, with Dan Haren hoping to produce his first quality start of the season. Right-hander Alex Sanabia starts for the Marlins, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 p.m.