The Washington Nationals scored two runs in the first inning and three more in the second, and went on to defeat the San Francisco Giants rather easily, Saturday afternoon at Nationals Field, as Jordan Zimmermann pitched eight innings of two-run ball.
Hunter Pence hit the first home run off of Zimmermann that any Giant has ever hit, in the top of the first inning, but that was it for the Giants, as they fell behind immediately afterward and ended up on the short end of a 6-2 loss to the Nationals. After his shaky start in the first inning, Zimmermann pitched the next seven innings, giving up a total of nine hits, and keeping the Giants from chipping away at the early lead.
Tim Lincecum started for the Giants and was not mechanically together. He gave up a lead-off triple to Denard Span, walked two, gave up an RBI-single to Jayson Werth, and managed to escape with only two runs scored against him, all in the first inning.
Things went from bad to worse in the second as Timmy walked two more batters, gave up two more singles, a sacrifice bunt, and threw a wild pitch, all of which resulted in three more runs, putting the Giants suddenly at 5-2 deficit, one from which they never recovered. Jayson Werth had two RBI’s on the day and Denard Span had one.
The Nationals built their lead to four runs when Asrubal Cabrera hit a solo shot in the third, making the score 6-2, but after the pitcher, Jordan Zimmermann hit a solid double, Bruce Bochy decided he had seen enough, and Yusmeiro Petit came on to replace Lincecum and retired Span for the final out of the third inning.
Petit is the real story in this game for the Giants, as he pulled the rug right out from under the Nationals’ offense by retiring all thirteen batters he faced. He struck out five, allowed two infield grounders, and confined the rest to fly-ball or pop-fly outs. He was dominating, throwing 56 pitches in his four-and-a-third innings stint.
Looking back at his last relief appearance on Thursday, Petit threw two perfect inning then, while striking out five batters. Altogether, he has pitched twelve-and-a-third consecutive perfect innings, or three-and-a-third more than what is required for a perfect game. Remembering the start last September, when he came within one strike of throwing a complete-game perfecto, I have to tip my cap to Yusmeiro Petit.
For the Giants, besides Angel Pagan’s lead-off double and Pence’s home run that immediately followed it, there was little else to get Giants fans excited. Two lead-off singles in the fourth by Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval looked promising, but Michael Morse took a called third strike and Joe Panik, yesterday’s hero, hit into an inning-ending double play.
A Pence infield single and a second single by Sandoval in the sixth brought Morse once more to the plate; this time he struck out swinging.
They even got two more runners on in the ninth, but another double-play grounder by Panik and a fly-ball out from Andrew Susac, ended the game. Sandoval ended up with three hits on the day.
No one thought the Giants would sweep the Nationals, but they can still win the series with a victory tomorrow. Ryan Vogelsong takes the mound for the Giants in the finale, before they come home to AT&T Park for a four-game set with the Colorado Rockies.