Many thanks to my colleague Nathan Fenno who slid over to Nationals coverage last night. Since I was away, here’s a roundup of both what Nathan provided for you in my stead and a few other bits of news and notes.
Nationals rally falls short in ninth inning: “There are mistakes. And then there are mistakes when you’re pitching against Roy Halladay,” Fenno writes of the Nationals 3-2 loss to the Phillies and their ace. “Each miscue, like the errant sinker (from John Lannan) that was the difference in the game, takes on disproportionate significance. That’s what happens when facing the $20 million per year right-hander who threw a no-hitter and perfect game last season, has earned two Cy Youngs and, against the Nationals, looked more machine than man.
“For eight cold and windy innings, Halladay baffled the Nationals (5-6) and extended his streak of scoreless innings against them to 30. Before the ninth, all he allowed were two singles to Adam LaRoche, who convinced manager Jim Riggleman to let him play after straining his left groin Sunday. But Halladay moved the ball around, used laser-like control and commanded each of his pitches.
“In other words, it was a typical Halladay outing.”
The game left John Lannan still winless in his career against Philadelphia, 0-9 now in 12 starts.
Nationals are buoyed by rotation’s strong start: That doesn’t mean John Lannan didn’t perform well Tuesday night. Quite the contrary. The left-hander allowed just two earned runs over six innings, continuing a trend of strong starts from the Nationals’ rotation.
“Entering Wednesday nights contest against the Phillies, Nationals starters went at least five innings in each game and recorded five quality starts in 10 tries,” Fenno writes.
““Were pretty much all feeding off each other right now,” said Jordan Zimmerman, who is 1-1 with a 3.18 earned run average in two starts. “If one guy pitches well, the next guy is going to go out there and try to do a little better.”In 10 games, Nationals starters are 3-3 with a 3.95 ERA. Opponents are batting only .251.”
Healthy again, Jordan Zimmermann rediscovers touch: Josh Brown checks in with a preview feature on tonight’s pitcher, Jordan Zimmermann who will take the mound against the Phillies — and Cliff Lee — in the Nationals’ series finale with the Phillies.
“After pitching only 31 innings in seven games for the Washington Nationals last year,” Brown writes. “Jordan Zimmermann is healthy and confident this season after overcoming the procedure to replace a ligament in his pitching elbow that sidelined him in August 2009.”
– In other news, Bryce Harper hit the first home run of his professional career Wednesday night, a two-run shot in the third inning of the Suns’ loss. The home run came after a night where Harper, who will make his Hagerstown debut Friday night, was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
– Triple-A Syracuse was rained out for the second straight game will play a doubleheader starting today at 2 p.m. Right-handed pitcher Cole Kimball was named the International League Player of the Week for the first week of the Triple-A season after appearing in three games, saving two and allowing just two hits in 3 1/3 innings of work. Kimball walked one and struck out three.
– Derek Norris, one of the Nationals’ top catching prospects, went on the minor league disabled list on Tuesday with a right ankle sprain, which he injured much the same way Harper injured his left during spring training — stepping on first base and tweaking it. The injury is not expected to sideline Norris for an extended time.