Two players central to the Washington Nationals’ plans began the season puzzlingly slow. Bryce Harper, the Nationals’ star outfielder, declared himself “lost” at the plate after only five games, and his equipment paid the price for his frustration. Jordan Zimmermann, the Nationals’ most consistent starting pitcher in 2013, logged only 62 / 3 innings over his first two starts, and didn’t make it out of the second inning in his last outing, the shortest of his career. But baseball is an everyday sport; funks come and go. Monday night, in a 9-2 drubbing of the Miami Marlins, Harper and Zimmermann showed they are who the Nationals thought they were. Harper went 3 for 4 to lead an offense that thrashed Marlins pitchers for a season-high 16 hits, including 11 for extra bases. And Zimmermann allowed two runs over seven strong innings, striking out seven. Harper, hitting cleanup for the first time this season, powered the Nationals with two doubles and a triple before leaving the game in the seventh with quad tightness that he and Manager Matt Williams said wouldn’t prevent him from playing Tuesday. The rest of the Nationals’ lineup carried its weight. While Adam LaRoche rested, Tyler Moore started and smashed a home run. Anthony Rendon continued his torrid start, drilling two extra-base hits and driving in three runs. Danny Espinosa added two hits, and Sandy Leon hit his first career home run. “A lot of guys on our team are swinging it well,” Harper said. “It’s contagious.” Every starter in the Nationals’ lineup except left fielder Kevin Frandsen had a hit — including Zimmermann, who had two singles. By the second inning, Zimmermann (1-0) had all the runs he needed. The Nationals staked him to a 4-1 lead, and he cruised through the next five.
Bryce Harper, Jordan Zimmermann lead Nationals to 9-2 rout of Marlins
Washington Post | Apr 15