Giants-Nationals Preview


Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) blows on his fingers before Game 2 of baseball's NL Division Series against the San Francisco Giants in Nationals Park, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

When he last took the mound for the Nationals, Jordan Zimmermann threw the first no-hitter in Washington in 83 years.

A lot more will be at stake against San Francisco's NL-record postseason win streak.

While Zimmermann looks to extend his dominance, Tim Hudson will try to overcome his recent struggles and help the Giants to a 2-0 edge in the division series Saturday night.

Following a 3-2 loss in Friday's opener, Washington could use a strong performance from Zimmermann (14-5, 2.66 ERA), who has been fantastic since the beginning of August.

On the final day of the regular season Sept. 28, Zimmermann struck out 10 and allowed only two baserunners in a 1-0 win over Miami that marked the first no-hitter in the nation's capital since Bobby Burke did it for the Senators in 1931.

The right-hander has gone 8-0 with a 1.81 ERA over his last 11 starts - all Washington wins. He's also 9-1 with a 2.27 mark in 15 starts on five or more days' rest this season.

"The secret to his success is what he showed on the final game of the season," manager Matt Williams told MLB's official website. "That's balls in the strike zone, pound the zone, work quickly, get us back in the dugout."

Brandon Crawford had three hits after belting a grand slam Wednesday in an 8-0 wild-card win at Pittsburgh. The shortstop is 11 for 26 in his last seven versus Washington.

Brandon Belt and Joe Panik each added two hits and an RBI as the Giants won their NL-record ninth postseason game in a row dating to their 2012 World Series title run.

Now Hudson (9-13, 3.57) will take a shot at extending the streak, though the Giants have lost his previous five starts. The right-hander went 0-4 with an 8.72 ERA in September, with his last win coming at Washington on Aug. 22.

"You have to like his experience," manager Bruce Bochy said of the 39-year-old. "He's such a pro in how he goes about his business, how he prepares. I think his biggest issue was that his hip was bothering him. I think he's over that."

Over nine career playoff starts, Hudson is 1-3 with a 3.40 ERA, but he's made only one postseason appearance since 2005 - and that was back in 2010 with Atlanta.

Hudson, however, is 17-5 with a 2.39 ERA in 30 career starts against the Nationals since the franchise moved from Montreal in 2005. He's also 4-0 with an 0.80 mark in five meetings over the past two seasons.

Denard Span, Anthony Rendon and Asdrubal Cabrera are a combined 0 for 17 versus Hudson this season, but Jayson Werth has gone 2 for 5 with a home run and is hitting .386 with four long balls in 44 career at-bats.

Bryce Harper, who hit a long solo shot Friday, is 4 for 9 with two homers in his last two home games versus San Francisco.

"We can't go 0-2 into San Fran," Harper said. "That's tough, so we've got to get that 'W' tomorrow."

Zimmermann will have to perform better than he did in his only career playoff start when he allowed five runs over three innings in a 12-4 loss to St. Louis in the 2012 NLDS.

He's gone 5-1 with a 2.04 ERA in his last six starts against the Giants after giving up two runs with eight strikeouts over eight innings in a 6-2 home win Aug. 23 in his only meeting this season.

Pence hit a two-run home run off him in that contest and is 8 for 20 with two homers all-time in the matchup. Pablo Sandoval has gone 6 for 13 when facing Zimmermann, but Buster Posey is just 3 for 15.

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