When you’re trying to scatter a whole bunch of hits, it sure helps to have a major-leaguer defender behind you. Just ask Danny Rosenbaum, who gave up hits in six of his seven innings pitched (nine total), but just one run as the Potomac Nationals ended a 10-game home losing streak with 3-1 victory.
Unlike the two nights he had previously started, Ryan Zimmerman was busy at the hot corner, racking up six assists and getting a glove on three more balls that were ruled hits. A major-league scorekeeper might have given an error on one of those, but most minor-league third basemen wouldn’t have gotten a glove on more than one, either.
As the nine hits in seven innings suggests, there were some double plays involved and ironically, Zimmerman was not involved in any of them. Journeyman shortstop Jose Lozada started up all three that the P-Nats turned last night, combining twice with Jeff Kobernus to help Rosenbaum out of jams in the first and third innings.
This is not to say that Rosenbaum was “rescued” by his defense last night, a common refrain when a pitcher gives up more hits than innings pitched. Folks have to look more closely at their scorecards or boxscores before making that observation. Last Saturday, Rosenbaum got 13 groundballs that led to outs, four flyouts, and six strikeouts in nine innings. Last night, those numbers were 10-3-5 in seven.
In other words, last night was pretty damn similar to Saturday night, even if it wasn’t a shutout. But for the first time this year, Rosenbaum didn’t issue a walk, which has been a troubling factor for him all season long. This may be in part to his increased velocity (90-92 vs. 87-89) and also attributable to his stubborn refusal to throw the get-me-over fastball.
In any case, in a first half that has been sorely lacking for bright spots, we may just have seen something to hang our hats on for the second half.
Offensively, Potomac did not break out last night: just eight hits and and eight men left on base. Zimmerman’s RBI double in the 4th was the offensive highlight while Lozada’s “single” to right field in the 5th, a grounder to second that was clearly misplayed but ruled a hit because it apparently went untouched, gave Potomac the go-ahead run (a runner who had reached on an error) while the game appeared to be under the threat of being halted, if not called, by the encircling dark skies and streaks of lightning spotted in the distance.
Potomac would get an insurance run in the seventh on another error-aided rally while Hector Nelo pitched the final two frames for his third save.
Mitchell Clegg (2-3, 5.70) is expected to get the start tonight against Salem’s Drake Britton (1-6, 6.75) as the P-Nats shoot for their seventh home win in 23 games.