(April 29 to May 2) Zimmermann, Haren Lead Nats to Series Split with Braves
The Washington Nationals managed to split a four-game series against the Atlanta Braves, losing the opening 2 games before salvaging the final two matchups.

Young star Stephen Strasburg has never pitched well against the Braves in Atlanta, and simply didn’t look fully healthy against them in the opening game as he gave up an early run in the first inning before allowing a second run in the fourth inning. Strasburg was seen shaking his throwing shoulder and his command of the ball appeared a little off. He still managed to make it through six innings and allowed just those two runs before being relieved by Tyler Clippard who took the 3-2 loss after giving up a go-ahead run to the Braves in the seventh inning.

The following game was just as unsuccessful for the Nats as starter Gio Gonzalez gave up five runs and five walks in the first four innings, though he recorded a season-high nine strikeouts. But the Nationals simply couldn’t get any offense going against Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson, who recorded his 200th career win. Hudson held the Nats to just three hits and one run in seven innings as the Braves cruised to an 8-1 win.

The Nationals in the third game , however, finally turned the tables on the Braves by gutting out a 2-0 win, thanks to starter Jordan Zimmerman. Many would say that Strasburg or Gonzalez are the Nats’ best pitchers, but it’s been Zimmermann who has been the most reliable this season. Zimmermann improved his record to 5-1, allowing just two hits in an eight-inning shutout performance. Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond both hit solo homeruns to give Washington all the runs they needed for the timely win.

Washington received another outstanding pitching performance in the final game, this time from fifth starter Dan Haren. The Nats won 3-1 as Haren allowed just four hits and one run through eight innings. Centerfielder Denard Span had three hits, two RBIs and a run scored.

(May 3- May 4) Nats Split First Two against Pirates
Washington failed to extend their winning streak to three games with a 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh in the opening game of a three-game set. The following game was a success, however, as Strasburg returned to the mound in full form despite his shaky performance against the Braves. Strasburg gave up four runs and five hits but struck out eight through seven innings. Closer Rafael Soriano entered the game in the ninth inning to earn his 10th save of the season. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman scored three of the Nats’ runs in their 5-4 win, advancing their season record to 16-15.

Nationals Player of the Week: Jordan Zimmermann
When Washington has needed a win, it’s been Zimmermann who has delivered. His eight-inning shutout against Atlanta was one of he finest pitching performances the team has received this season, and helped shift the momentum of the series in the Nationals’ favor

Washington will host the Detroit Tigers on May 7 to May 8, followed by another home series against the Chicago Cubs on May 10 to May 12.


Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor