ROCKIES PITCHER NICASIO INJURED BY LINE DRIVE
The Washington Nationals rode a first inning two-run triple by Ryan Zimmmerman and two RBIs from Michael Morse -- one via a solo home run -- and another strong outing by Jordan Zimmermann to defeat the Colorado Rockies 5-3, halting a short two-game losing streak.
But the biggest focus of the night was on Rockies starting pitcher Juan Nicasio, who took a line drive off the right side of his head off the bat of Ian Desmond. Nicasio appeared to be knocked out immediately by the blow, as he fell straight down on his head and neck afterward, laying motionless momentarily. He appeared to gain his senses quickly though, talking with trainers and moving his arms as they attended to him.
He was strapped to a backboard and taken off the field on a cart. According to reports, he was taken to a Denver area hospital where he was resting comfortably with a neck injury. (updated 12:30 pm--According to a Rockies team press release, Nicasio had surgery on fractured C-1 vertebrae and will remain hosptialized during recovery.)
Nicasio's injury overshadowed another terrific start by Jordan Zimmermann, himself the victim of a line drive in college while pitching, which broke his jaw. Zimmermann went 5 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs -- both of which scored after he left the game -- on four hits and two walks, striking out eight. Zimmermann reached 138 1/3 innings pitched for the season last night, bringing him to within 22 innings of the team-imposed 160 innings limit this season, or about three more starts.
Zimmermann (7-9, 3.12) got into his only jam in the sixth, when a Todd Helton double and Troy Tulowitzki single with one out clogged the bases. Zimmermann struck out lefty outfielder Seth Smith, but the strikeout pitch was a slider that hit Smith on his back leg, and manager Davey Johnson saw enough, yanking Zimmermann after his 96th pitch.
The resultant pitching change put the win in jeopardy. Henry Rodriguez entered and was spectacularly ineffective, allowing all four batters he faced to reach base on three hits and a walk. Zimmermann's two inherited runners both scored, and one of Hot Rod's, who was lifted with the bases loaded. Tyler Clippard, as he's done all season long, came in and put out the fire, stranding all three runners by striking out OF Eric Young on a picked change-up.
Clippard went two full innings, even batting for himself, allowing three hits and a walk, striking out two. When he got into a little trouble in the eighth, Drew Storen came in to clean up, recording his 28th save of the season.
The Nationals pounded out 15 hits against six Rockies pitcher, but had to be satisfied with the five runs they scored, leaving nine men on base after going 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
THE GOOD: Michael Morse went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs. Rick Ankiel went 3-for-5 with a run and RBI. Danny Espinosa went 2-for-4 and scored twice. Ian Desmond went 4-for-4.
THE BAD: Jayson Werth went 0-for-5, stranding four.
THE UGLY: Hot Rod. It was "Bad Henry" last night, failing to retire any of the four batters he faced. You just never know what you're gonna get out of him from night to night.
THE STATS: 15 hits, two walks, three strikeouts. 4-for-13 w/RISP, nine LOB, three GIDP. E: Ankiel (1), one DP.
NEXT GAME: Tonight at Colorado at 8:10 pm EDT. Livan Hernandez (6-10, 4.08) faces Jhoulys Chacin (8-8, 3.38).