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Latest Jordan Zimmermann Items
The cracks of the bats grew progressively louder with each pitch Tim Lincecum left up. With each meatball over the plate, the Nationals batters' eyes widened in disbelief of their good fortunes. His hair soaked in sweat on the 94-degree D.C. evening at Nationals Park, his arms glistening, Lincecum looked gradually more defeated with each ball that was barreled up.
The bar the Washington Nationals set Tuesday night was high. The offensive outburst seemingly 71 games in the making became their standard bearer for a season in which consistency has been fleeting. But with each excited answer about the breakthrough came a warning: every night couldn't possibly be like this.
The sound it made off of Jesus Flores' bat was so clean. It was flush, and loud, and pure. One crack of the bat like that, it seemed, and the Washington Nationals' night of offensive misery at Camden Yards against Jason Hammel was over.
The question came his way after six more innings were in the books. After Stephen Strasburg's 2012 total reached 77 innings and inched closer to his season's general halfway point. After his team asserted its viability as a contender once more and finished off a 6-0 road trip.
In a ballpark that had never witnessed a victory by their franchise, be it Montreal or Washington, the Nationals came into Boston and dropped a hammer on one of the American League East's perennial powers.
The difference between the Washington Nationals extending their winning streak to four games or dropping their second contest of their current nine-game trip, was two pitches. Two sliders.
It wasn't until the final pitch of the game that the Pittsburgh Pirates finally brought the Washington Nationals to their knees in a literal fashion. Ian Desmond swung through Joel Hanrahan's 0-2 slider after being fed two screaming fastballs, fell to one knee and stared off into the distance down the left field line. Game over, an opportunity lost.
When it was over, when the Philadelphia Phillies had announced that they weren't ready just to hand the Washington Nationals the division in May by avoiding a series sweep, the Nationals had much bigger things to worry about.
Ryan Zimmerman sat and watched from the dugout Wednesday, helpless to his team for the time being with inflammation in his right AC joint. Michael Morse was thousands of miles away, two weeks into a six-week rest period for his torn right lat muscle.