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Zimmermann Defeats Red Sox, Smoltz

John Smoltz joined the Boston Red Sox in the hope of a reinvention. He has been a starter, a closer and a starter again. He has learned to throw sidearm. And in this latest incarnation, he was looking for a fresh start with a new team.

But the honeymoon did not last long in his first start with Boston. The Washington Nationals blitzed Smoltz and won, 9-3, last night before 41,985, the third attendance record in as many nights at Nationals Park.

Washington (21-49) provided a harsh welcome, battering Smoltz with a four-run first inning. In 92 pitches over five innings last night, Smoltz allowed five runs on seven hits with five strikeouts. Jordan Zimmermann, pitched fearlessly against the imposing Red Sox (44-28).

"He's got good stuff," Dustin Pedroia, Boston's second baseman, said of Zimmermann. "He's got the stuff of a No. 1. He's going to be good for a long time. He's not afraid. He gets after it."

By the end of the night, Zimmermann (3-3) had deservingly captured some attention. He relied on his fastball to speed past the Red Sox batters, allowing one run and five hits with six strikeouts and one walk over seven innings.

"He was tremendous," Manager Manny Acta said. "He was outstanding. He attacked those guys with his fastball, and he was able to get the best of them."

Also, after the game, Acta said that Nick Johnson would be evaluated tomorrow before the team's trip to Baltimore to face the Orioles. Johnson exited the game after the first inning with a left shin contusion he suffered after being hit by Smoltz.

Other notable items from tonight's game:

The Nationals received production from the bottom of their order. Willie Harris continued to perform, blasting a two-run homer in the seventh inning. He finished 3 for 4. And catcher Josh Bard also continued to hit well, finishing 3 for 4 with two RBI.

And it will not really show up on a box score anywhere, but Ryan Zimmerman had a fantastic night in the field. This note, unfortunately, did not make it into my game story because of space concenrs.

But that did not mean it was not impressive. Zimmerman has made his share of throwing errors this season, but performances like tonight remind you of just how smoothly he fields when is on. Not looking at my scorebook, I can think of a few marvelous plays, including the no-look heave to make an out at second in the third inning and the leaping F5 put out in the fourth.

By Mark Viera  |  June 25, 2009; 11:53 PM ET
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Next: Taking One On The Shin


You probably can't say, due to some reporter's code or something, but I'd love to know who the reporter was who asked Acta after the game how Nick Johnson got hurt. The surprised and slightly dismissive look on Acta's face when he said "he got hit with the pitch" spoke volumes. Some reporter wasn't paying much attention to the game.

Posted by: Snopes1 | June 26, 2009 12:20 AM | Report abuse

awesome game. i only wish the wizards had drafted blair.

Posted by: sect104 | June 26, 2009 12:50 AM | Report abuse

A good lawyer never asks a question (s)he doesn't know the answer to. Could that be the same with this journalist, wondering if Manny knew the answer?

I wanted to chime in on the Stadium discussion from before, thinking about what Stan said about the Nats' stadium. I have not been around to the recent new ballparks, except for Yankee Stadium last week, so my sample size is really, really small.

And I apologize if the YS discussion ensued last week while I was away, but, at 2.5 times the cost, it is not as nice a stadium as the Nats'. The one thing I don't do is buy a lot of food, so I can't comment on that, except that YS did not have really good coffee on that long, cold rainy afternoon, and the Nats have an excellent coffee stand in Majorca (sp?).

YS tries to compromise between the old stadium from pre-1975 and the recent version. So they kept the recent dimensions, which have no real interest since they were changed so much over the last 30 years, and they made all the seats blue. Both are really boring decisions. The bleachers are kind of neat looking, the way they angle down toward the field, but the rest of the ballpark's design is unremarkable. The imitation frieze is a really cheap imitation of the old one that wrapped around the old, pillar-filled stadium.

What really is surprising is the lameness of the YS scoreboard. They have a confusing out of town scoreboard which has only four games displayed at once and isn't dedicatedly on all the time. The lineups and other info are not nearly as well displayed as the Nats' scoreboard. The in-between inning stuff is way lamer than the Nats' stuff. A cartoon subway race, with standings for the 4, B, and D trains! Not too exciting.

The only really interesting aspect about YS is a really nice set of vintage photos from every year they won the World Series. The photos are huge and span the lower concourse, so that as you walk around and look above the concession stands, you can walk from the 1920's to 2000, or whenever the last title was. As a childhood Yankee fan, I really enjoyed trying to figure out who all the old pictures were of. The photos beat the pants off the Nats' portraits of old-time players as well as the sculptures.

We also must remember that the Nats' ushers and other personnel are really friendly and helpful. At YS, they were much more up tight. And because I went to the sparsely attended rain-delayed game, we got to sit up front, and these cheesy waitresses chewing gum with their mouths open barked solicitations for food orders. No more hot dog venders! I guess the Sopranos wanted it that way.

So although Stan is generally full of crap, I think the Nats' Stadium isn't so bad. It's actually starting to grow on me. Now if the organist could only stop playing rock songs. . . .

Sorry this was so long. I felt like I was visiting my old neighborhood and everything had changed, so I had to write this as therapy.

Posted by: paulkp | June 26, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Getting back late (won our championship game tonight!) but had to thank gilbert and joe for the willie harris in the last post. Esp. the eggs.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 26, 2009 1:00 AM | Report abuse

and while any injury to Nick is problematic, at least it's the other leg.
Which reminds me, wasn't it a David Wright popup he was chasing when Kearns broke Nick's right leg? Another reason not to like NY.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 26, 2009 1:06 AM | Report abuse

5 Reasons for optimism on a Friday.

1. 5 for 9 in series against the Blue Jays Yankees and Bosox.
2. Starting pitchers (ZNN!) showing a lot of promise.
3. The bottom of the order is winning games (Willie!)
4. Zimmerman defense sparkles. (Though his bat, and that of Adam, are still missing)
5. Nats win in front of a record crowd.

Posted by: nattydread1 | June 26, 2009 1:27 AM | Report abuse

What a night at the park! Hub fans I talked to were wowed by our facilities, the comforts, the amenities, the affordability of tickets, and Jordan Zimmermann. My 3 year old grandson gave us replay after replay of "Z'ns" leaping line drive catch,and Z'nn's windup with a piece of Noah's pretzel which he hid in his glove and then threw with speed and accuracy. I celebrated the win with the "Big Crab Louie" sandwich-$18, and Marc Fischer is right - best ball park food I've ever had. The local version of the lobster roll, but light, not greasy, and a pure protein burn for the later innings. Time for The Primal Victory Cry, "GoNats!" and +1/2 streets', "giddy, joyous feeling the morning after a win." If our hitting regresses to mean, i.e. improves to where it belongs, we should see 60 more mornings like this.

Posted by: flynnie2 | June 26, 2009 4:16 AM | Report abuse

It's no coincidence that last night's triumph followed Stan's vote of confidence in Manny, comparing him favorably to Bobby Cox, and I hope all of you trolls who have been calling for firing Manny realize like Steinberg that your arteries are full of rancid mayonaisse.

Posted by: flynnie2 | June 26, 2009 4:20 AM | Report abuse


Where you been hiding you ol' rascal?

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 26, 2009 6:36 AM | Report abuse

hey surly w, thanks for the shout-out in Boz's chat! =)

What a great win last night! Bummer I missed it all.

Posted by: NatsNut | June 26, 2009 6:55 AM | Report abuse

uh, no. The reporter wondered whether Nick had been injured while running the bases. Johnson was hit by a pitch. Anyone who was watching would have known that.


A good lawyer never asks a question (s)he doesn't know the answer to. Could that be the same with this journalist, wondering if Manny knew the answer?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 26, 2009 7:17 AM | Report abuse

Also, thanks for the game report, Flynnie. Your grandson sounds like a pistol!

And thanks to Paul for sharing his ballpark impressions as well.

sec3, championship game? Congrats.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 26, 2009 7:22 AM | Report abuse

by the time nick got to 3rd base in looked like he had a baseball tucked into his sock (his leg was swelling so much) that was freaky looking

Posted by: theredskin | June 26, 2009 7:46 AM | Report abuse

A not-very-well-thought-out thought:

When Flores went down, I figured we were in a lot of trouble with Nieves and Bard taking up the catching duties; neither was hitting. That was going to make 6-9 in the lineup a dead zone.

Then the Nats went on their streak of ten straight games over five runs/game, while losing nine of them. Hm, maybe they'll keep scoring anyway.

Then the last several miserable weeks where they've been lucky to score three runs a game, and yet they've still gone 5-4 against the Yanks, Jays, and Sox.

And now I see - shockingly - that Bard's BA is up to .273 after having been well under the Mendoza line for most of the season. So the 6-spot is suddenly no longer the place where rallies start to die.

As I said, this isn't well-researched or well-thought-out, but I've had the sense for a long time that Flores's injury was really hurting the Nats' run production a lot, just when the relief pitching was starting to get adequate and the young starters were beginning to show how good they could really be.

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 26, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

go to the new post.

Posted by: leetee1955 | June 26, 2009 8:10 AM | Report abuse

My first experience at the Nats stadium was Wednesday night. I'm a life-long Red Sox fan, but have lived in the DC region for 36 years and never became an Orioles fan. The park is fantastic! My box seat on near third base was great (at $80 plus all those fees), except for all the people around me who kept getting up for food and beer! Even the bathrooms were nice (for a public facility). My only complaint is that I couldn't find any where on the scoreboard or other electronic signs that indicated men on base (even a graphic like shown on TV with the diamond and yellow indicating MOB). Again, I couldn't always see the whole field because of the fans' ups and downs. Nationals, you have a great facility, and after beating the Sox last night and the Yankees twice last week, have a team to be proud of, too.

Posted by: lynda_durfee | June 26, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

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