July 15, 2014
After dropping the first of a three game series against the Phillies on Friday, the Nationals won the next two to head into the All-Star Break tied for first place in the National League East.
After the Phillies tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Saturday night’s game headed to extra innings. But the Nats didn’t need long to finish what they started. An RBI single by Ryan Zimmerman followed by a wild pitch gave the Nats a two-run lead. Rafael Soriano, having one of the best seasons in his 13-year career, retired the side for his 22nd save of the season.
Sunday’s game was a one-sided affair; Washington outscored Philadelphia 10-3, highlighted by a four-inning sixth inning. With the victory, the Nationals finished the first half of the season 51-42 (.548). After a slow start, they are hopeful they can continue this momentum after the break.
“Considering everything that is going on, we are OK,” manager Matt Williams. “We are right in the thick of the division. We have a chance. That’s all we could ask for, considering what’s going on. I’m happy about it.”
With Anthony Rendon finishing fourth in the last-chance All-Star voting, there is still just one Washington player on the National League’s All Star Roster. Unexpectedly, it’s not Jordan Zimmerman.
Zimmerman was removed from the line-up after a biceps cramp forced him to leave Friday’s game early. But instead of being replaced by another deserving National, such as closer Rafael Soriano who has a 1.00 ERA and 22 saves, his spot was filled by Miami Marlin’s starter Henderson Alvarez.
The announcement sparked outrage amongst Nats players and fans alike. Third basemen Ryan Zimmerman was especially vocal about his disappointment. “You would think they could pick a ton of relievers that we have,” he said. “I think we have plenty of people that could represent us.”
Major League Baseball responded by naming a National to the roster Sunday afternoon. Reliever Tyler Clippard was added to the All-Star roster in place of Atlanta’s Julio Teheran.
“I was surprised,” Clippard said of the announcement. “Obviously coming into the last day of the break expecting to go home and spend some days there. They said they needed a guy because Teheran was pitching today and I’m honored to do it. I feel like the Nationals needed some representation there. Jordan wasn’t able to do it because of his bicep and I was afraid we might not have anybody in uniform out there. I’m just happy to go out there and represent our team and maybe get into a game and see what happens.”
This will be Clippard’s second All-Star appearance; he was previously named in 2011.
The 2014 mid-summer classic will be Tuesday night in Minneapolis.