The Potomac Nationals returned home last night to host the Wilmington Blue Rocks for their traditional cash cow 4th of July festivities and sent the reported crowd of 5,908 home happy with a 4-2 win.
Jordan Zimmermann returned to Woodbridge for the first time since early 2008, pitching two scoreless innings in a rehab start from last year’s Tommy John surgery. The surprise #5 starter in the ’09 Washington rotation threw 25 pitches, 16 for strikes. His velocity appeared fine, but his location was a little lacking.
Zimmermann was quoted by Robert Daski in the News & Messenger as believing that he’ll be with the team for a total of three or four appearances, which would have him pitching on the road in Frederick and against Salem in Boston, then again in Woodbridge against the Kinston Indians on Wednesday, July 14th.
Adrian Alaniz, a teammate of Zimmermann’s in ’08 at Potomac, followed the righthander with six solid innings of relief, allowing just two unearned runs on three hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
The offense would leverage the mistakes of the Wilmington Blue Rocks pitchers to score a pair of runs in the third, with Dan Lyons and Steve Lombardozzi drawing walks and Derek Norris driving them in with a double over the head of the centerfielder to take a 2-0 lead.
They would take advantage of poor Blue Rocks defense in the fifth. With a runner on first and one out, Lombardozzi would lay down a bunt to the third baseman, who threw wide of first, enabling the runner to score and Lombardozzi to take second. After a passed ball and a walk, Mike Burgess bounced a hard grounder over the Wilmington first baseman for an RBI single that would give the PNats a 4-1 lead.
They would return the favor for the game’s final run in the top of the 8th as a two-out error and triple broke up a streak of eight batters set down by Alaniz, but Zach Dials snuffed any hopes of a comeback by striking out the side in the 9th to earn the save.
With the win, Potomac improves to 4-5 in the second half, 1½ games behind Wilmington and Frederick for the Northern Division lead. The two teams will meet again tonight, with Marcos Frias taking the hill for the PNats against John Lamb for the Blue Rocks.