|Washington (30-31) «||0||0||0||2||5||0||0||0||x||7||14||2|
WASHINGTON -- Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson called a pregame team meeting aimed at boosting morale. Then he noticed something disconcerting about his starting pitcher.
"He had the neck brace on," Johnson said. "And I was a little worried."
Jordan Zimmermann said the brace was actually a heating pad for his neck, which has been stiff on-and-off for a couple of weeks. He not only made the start, he pitched another gem: two hits over seven scoreless innings in a 7-0 victory against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
"It was still a little tight a couple of days ago, so I didn't want to take any chances," Zimmermann said. "So I figure heat it up and it'll be good to go."
Zimmermann (9-3) struck out eight with a season-high 111 pitches while dropping his ERA to 2.00. He's tied with Boston's Clay Buchholz, Arizona's Patrick Corbin and St. Louis' Adam Wainwright for most wins in the majors.
"I'm hoping he wears that neck brace every time he goes out," Johnson said. "That was a heck of a game."
Johnson also joked that he might have to hold more team meetings after seeing some rare signs from his offense. The Nationals, who hadn't scored more than three runs for seven straight games, managed to get five across in one inning as they broke a two-game losing streak and moved within one game of .500.
"I'll have it every day if we get 14 hits and seven runs, but it wasn't much of a meeting," Johnson said. "It was about three minutes or something like that. I was just cheering 'em up."
Asked what he got from the meeting, second baseman Anthony Rendon said: "Swing."
"Just be aggressive," Rendon said. "That's basically what he was trying to say. Just go out there and try to hit."
Rendon, a recent addition to the lineup, did his part with two hits and three RBI. Ian Desmond got three hits and two RBI to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games, and the Nationals were an uncharacteristic 5 for 10 with runners in scoring position. Washington scored a pair in the fourth and sent 10 hitters to the plate in a five-run fifth that chased Minnesota starter Scott Diamond (4-5).
The Nationals fielded an unorthodox lineup, putting a pair of natural second basemen in the outfield -- Jeff Kobernus in center, Steve Lombardozzi in left -- and a converted third baseman, Rendon, at second.
Rendon fluffed a routine popup in the third inning -- "The only spot that the sun was at, the ball happened to go there," he said -- and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman made yet another error, his 11th of the season, when he pulled first baseman Adam LaRoche off the bag in the fifth.
Regular center fielder Denard Span missed the game after fouling a pitch off his right foot in an 11-inning loss Saturday. Usual left fielder Bryce Harper is on the disabled list with a sore knee and was en route for his Monday appointment with renowned specialist Dr. James Andrews.
Nevertheless, Johnson's starting nine got the job done, with a little help from the Twins. The two runs in the fourth came with two outs when Rendon hit a sharp grounder to shortstop with men on second and third. Pedro Florimon made a nice diving stop, but first baseman Justin Morneau failed to come off the bag to field the late, off-target throw, allowing both runners to score.
The fifth inning included three walks -- one intentional -- and two wild pitches, supplementing doubles by Zimmerman and Rendon and singles by LaRoche and Desmond, although LaRoche got a generous ruling on a groundball that second baseman Brian Dozier should have fielded.
Such mistakes stood out for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
"I think Morny knows he's got to come off the bag and keep that one there, and we talked about that afterwards," Gardenhire said. "He didn't know if he had a chance to still get the runner, but he's got to make sure we stop that ball. And the groundball to second, that's an error and we just missed the ball. I know they gave it a hit, but this is the big leagues folks. That's an error. That's two steps to his right."
|Players of the Game|
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|Eduardo Escobar, 3B||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.216|
|Clete Thomas, LF||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.111|
|Ryan Doumit, C||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.235|
|Justin Morneau, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||2||0||.290|
|Chris Parmelee, RF||3||0||2||0||1||0||0||.230|
|Aaron Hicks, CF||4||0||1||0||0||1||3||.182|
|Brian Dozier, 2B||3||0||0||0||1||1||2||.227|
|Pedro Florimon, SS||4||0||0||0||0||2||2||.241|
|Scott Diamond, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||.000|
|Ryan Pressly, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Josh Roenicke, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Chris Colabello, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.125|
|Caleb Thielbar, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-struck out for Roenicke in the 7th|
|2B - Chris Parmelee (6, Zimmermann)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|Outfield Assists - Aaron Hicks 1, Clete Thomas 1|
|DP - Hicks-Morneau, Dozier-Florimon-Morneau|
|E - Pedro Florimon (6, Throwing)|
|Scott Diamond (L,4-5)||4.2||10||7||6||2||3||0||5.19|
|IBB - Werth by Scott Diamond|
|WP - Ryan Pressly 2 (3)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Scott Diamond 82-47, Ryan Pressly 17-8, Josh Roenicke 7-5, Caleb Thielbar 33-19|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Diamond 4-5, Caleb Thielbar 2-3|
|Batters Faced - Scott Diamond 24, Ryan Pressly 5, Josh Roenicke 2, Caleb Thielbar 8|
|Jeff Kobernus, CF||4||0||2||0||1||0||0||.333|
|Stephen Lombardozzi, LF||5||1||1||0||0||0||3||.224|
|Ryan Zimmerman, 3B||5||1||1||0||0||1||2||.267|
|Jayson Werth, RF||3||1||2||0||1||0||1||.259|
|Adam LaRoche, 1B||3||2||2||1||0||1||1||.251|
|a- Chris Marrero, PH-1B||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Ian Desmond, SS||4||2||3||2||0||0||0||.276|
|Anthony Rendon, 2B||3||0||2||3||1||0||2||.297|
|Kurt Suzuki, C||3||0||0||0||1||0||4||.233|
|Jordan Zimmermann, P||3||0||0||0||0||2||2||.107|
|Ian Krol, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Tyler Moore, PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.158|
|Xavier Cedeno, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-grounded out for LaRoche in the 7th|
|b-singled for Krol in the 8th|
|2B - Ryan Zimmerman (7, Diamond), Anthony Rendon (4, Pressly)|
|RBI - Adam LaRoche (29), Ian Desmond 2 (26), Anthony Rendon 3 (4)|
|2-OUT RBI - Adam LaRoche (8), Ian Desmond 2 (9), Anthony Rendon 3 (4)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|E - Anthony Rendon (4, Dropped fly), Ryan Zimmerman (11, Throwing)|
|Jordan Zimmermann (W,9-3)||7||2||0||0||2||8||0||2.00|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jordan Zimmermann 111-77, Ian Krol 9-8, Xavier Cedeno 17-11|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jordan Zimmermann 7-8, Xavier Cedeno 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Jordan Zimmermann 27, Ian Krol 3, Xavier Cedeno 5|
|Attendance - 38516|
|Game Time - 2:48|
|Temperature - 79|
|Umpires - Home - Chris Conroy, First Base - David Rackley, Second Base - Scott Barry, Third Base - Tim Welke|