Yohan Flande (0-1, 6.10) had pitched 5 crisp innings and the Colorado Rockies had scraped-together a 2-1 lead over the Washington Nationals Monday night at Nationals Park in the Nation’s Capital when the bottom of the 6th rolled around. Anthony Randolph led-off for the Nats with a single, then Jayson Werth worked Flande for a 7-pitch walk. Flande, who had been working briskly and with confidence early, suddenly was spraying the ball around, pacing around the mound, and clearly appeared to have lost his mojo. After a pep-talk from pitching coach Jim Wright, Flande fell behind Adam LaRoche 3-0, but regrouped to strike him-out. Then right-handed hitting Ryan Zimmerman, who had 2 of the 5 hits Flande had allowed to that point, was due, and Colorado manager Walt Weiss went to the bullpen for the righty-righty matchup, Rob Scahill v Zimmerman. Zimmerman won, doubling down the right-field line to tie the score. Bryce Harper was walked to load the bases for Ian Desmond, who responded with a bases-clearing double that mimicked the path of Zimmerman’s. Desmond stole 3rd on a napping Scahill, then scored on a Wilson Ramos ground-out, and the Nationals exited the inning with a 6-2 lead.
LaRoche would add a solo home run off Scahill in the 7th, and the Nationals went on to defeat the Rockies 7-3.
Jordan Zimmerman (6-4. 2.95) got the win. Zimmerman gave-up 2 runs on 7 hits, pitching 6 innings. He walked one Colorado batter and struck-out 5. Drew Storen, Aaron Barrett and Jerry Blevins followed Zimmerman and limited the Rockies to a single score (off Barrett) in the 8th.
The Rockies took the lead in the top of the 6th when Drew Stubbs led-off with a ground-rule double and scored on a succeeding double by Troy Tulowitzki. Justin Morneau lined a single sharply to center that moved Tulo to 3rd. Zimmerman got Wilin Rosario, who left runners in scoring position in 3 innings, to pop to Desmond, then Ryan Wheeler chipped a fly-ball to center-field that allowed Tulowitzki to score when catcher Ramos bobbled the throw from Denard Span. But then the Nationals came to bat.
The middle game of the 3-game set is tonight at Nationals Park in DC. As Agbayani notes, it will be the biggest pitching matchup in the history of baseball, the Rockies’ Christian Friedrich versus Washington’s Stephen Strasbourg. Game time’s 5:05 MDT.