Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jordan Zimmermann face Tim Hudson in the rubber match of this series.
Ah, but that was before Jayson Werth, Rick Ankiel, Laynce Nix and Matt Stairs joined the club. Check out those newcomers' lifetime numbers against Hudson: Werth (7-for-20, HR, 6 RBI), Ankiel (3-for-6, RBI), Nix (6-for-14, 2B, RBI), Stairs (5-for-6, 2 2B). Perhaps the tide is about to turn in this previously lopsided match-up.
Jordan Zimmermann makes his season debut for the Nationals, coming off a fantastic spring in which he was scored upon in only four of his six Grapefruit League starts. Scouts and opposing teams raved about the right-hander's stuff this spring. Now we'll see if it translates into the regular season.
It's a gorgeous (if a bit chilly) day on South Capitol Street. Updates to come all afternoon, so check back often...
BRAVES at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:35 p.m.
TV: MASN, Ch. 50
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM)
Weather: Mostly sunny, 55 degrees, Wind 11 mph LF to RF
STARTING LINEUPS1:36 p.m. -- Jordan Zimmermann fires a 92 mph fastball past Martin Prado for strike one, and we are underway on a sunny, 53-degree afternoon in the nation's capital.
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Michael Morse
CF Rick Ankiel
2B Danny Espinosa
C Ivan Rodriguez
P Jordan Zimmermann
LF Martin Prado
CF Nate McLouth
3B Chipper Jones
C Brian McCann
2B Dan Uggla
RF Jason Heyward
SS Alex Gonzalez
1B Freddie Freeman
P Tim Hudson
1:45 p.m. -- The first signs of shaky defense this season help give the Braves an early 1-0 lead. Danny Espinosa had trouble handling two grounders in the top of the first. The first, on a hard-hit ball by Prado, turned into an infield single. The second should have produced a simple 4-6-3 double play. But Espinosa booted it and could only get the out at first. That extended the inning and allowed Brian McCann to bloop an RBI single to left-center. Zimmermann gets charged with the run, but it wasn't entirely his fault.
1:58 p.m. -- Wow, lots happening there in the bottom of the first. Ian Desmond struck out, falling to 0-for-10 with three K's to begin his season. Jayson Werth, though, drew a walk (he's now reached base in six of his first 10 plate appearances). A wild pitch moved Werth to second, bringing Adam LaRoche to the plate for his sixth consecutive at-bat with a runner in scoring position. And for the first time, he delivered, sending a single to left. Except Werth collided with Chipper Jones in front of third base and was easily thrown out at the plate. Fortunately, third base ump Jim Reynolds was on top of the play from the beginning and immediately called interference on Jones. So Werth scores, LaRoche gets his first RBI and the Nats and Braves are tied 1-1 after one.
2:12 p.m. -- Ivan Rodriguez may have 3,000 hits in his sights, but there's another milestone fast approaching. After hitting into a 6-4-3 double play just now, Pudge has grounded into 332 double plays in his career. That's only 18 shy of the all-time record (owned by Cal Ripken). To be fair, the top five guys on that list are Ripken, Pudge, Hank Aaron, Carl Yastrzemski and Dave Winfield (all Hall of Famers or likely Hall of Famers). It's a record that only be accomplished from playing in this game for a long time, which means you also have to be a really good player. Still, Pudge is piling up these GIDP's at a pretty fast rate these days.
2:16 p.m. -- Real quick top of the third for Zimmermann. He's thrown only 43 pitches (29 strikes) so far, nice efficiency.
2:26 p.m. -- Zimmermann has really settled into a groove here. He's retired 10 of 11 and has needed only 49 pitches to get through four innings. Fastball velocity (92-93) isn't quite where it was during spring training (94-96) but it's been effective enough so far today. Still 1-1 as we go to the bottom of the fourth.
2:46 p.m. -- The defense has not been sharp today, and it finally cost the Nats in the fifth. Werth and Ankiel couldn't track down Alex Gonzalez's drive to right-center (looked like each guy called the other off). Gonzalez scored on Freddie Freeman's groundout. Zimmermann then walked Hudson, a real no-no made worse when Prado doubled to right-center and Espinosa mishandled the relay throw, allowing Hudson to score. That officially goes down as the first Nationals error of the season, though Espinosa has made at least three poor plays in the field today. Not a real crisp showing, and because of it, the Braves now lead 3-1.
2:59 p.m. -- Despite the defensive woes, the Nats have only allowed three runs through six innings. Eventually, the offense is going to have to do something against Hudson, who has retired 11 straight without breaking a sweat. Bottom of the sixth coming up, top of the order due up for the Nats. Seems like an opportune time to make something happen.
3:04 p.m. -- Or not. Hudson retires the side in the sixth, making it 14 in a row retired. Though Desmond did very nearly reach base for the first time this season. He lofted a little looper into shallow right-center, only to be robbed by Dan Uggla, who made a fantastic, over-the-shoulder, diving catch. Seriously, that was about the best play you'll ever see a second baseman make. And it was made by Dan Uggla???
3:06 p.m. -- Ladies and gentlemen, now sprinting in from the right field bullpen to the Ultimate Warrior's theme song (that's a late '80s/early '90s WWF reference for all you non-wrestling fans): Todd Coffey. Love it.
3:20 p.m. -- Today's paid attendance: 22,210.
3:24 p.m. -- Well, that wasn't pretty. After retiring the first two batters he faced with ease, Coffey allowed a double and then walked McLouth on four pitches. Jim Riggleman summoned Doug Slaten to face Chipper, and Slaten responded by falling behind 3-0 and ultimately walking Jones. That loaded the bases, and with the shift on, Brian McCann dumped a slow roller past the vacant shortstop hole to score two and put the Braves up 5-1. It's been a bad start to the season for Slaten, who to that point had made three appearances, faced four batters and not recorded one out. (He did wind up getting Uggla to fly out to end the inning.) If Sean Burnett is going to be the closer (or sort-of closer), Slaten is going to have to be able to get lefties out in the seventh and eighth innings. So far, he hasn't come close to doing it.
3:31 p.m. -- Tim Hudson just mowing down the Nats lineup. Seventeen in a row retired. He hasn't put a man on base since the second. Just continuing his dominance of this franchise. We go to the top of the eighth, and now making his big-league debut is Brian Broderick. Nats trail 5-1.
3:46 p.m. -- And the wheels have officially fallen off. Broderick won't soon forget his MLB debut, much as he'd probably like to. Allowed three runs on two hits, a walk, some really bad defense and a bases-loaded balk you had to see to believe. He went into his full wind-up and throwing motion ... and never let go of the ball. Yeah, you kind of have to do that in this sport. It's now 8-1 Atlanta, and the fans are restless.
3:51 p.m. -- Make it 9-1 as Chad Gaudin enters and gives up a double to Chipper.
3:52 p.m. -- Make it 10-1 as Gaudin serves up a single off the right-field wall to McCann. Is this good?
3:56 p.m. -- Make it 11-1 as Gaudin takes a line drive off his shoulder that caroms into right field. Is this good?
4:04 p.m. -- Hey, the Nats score to trim the lead to 11-2! But Ian Desmond still doesn't have a hit this season.
4:13 p.m. -- Is it over yet? Nope, Nats still have to bat in the bottom of the ninth.
4:24 p.m. -- Now it's official. Nats lose 11-2. Jordan Zimmermann takes a very hard-luck loss. In three games, Nationals starting pitchers have a 2.60 ERA. Relievers: 8.38 ERA.