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After shaky 1st, Zimmermann turns in top-notch start

May 21, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

USA Today Sports Images

Two batters into Wednesday night’s game, Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals were down a run, a pair of Yankees having already connected for base hits. Four batters in, and the score was 2-0, as the crowd of 37,648 — at least, the portion of it that wasn’t still making its way into the park — began to murmur.

Zimmermann was murmuring to himself, as well, as he stood on the mound during that potentially disastrous first frame of the night.

“I told myself: ‘Gotta hold them here. We’re going to score runs,'” the right-hander said later. “And I was able to do that.”

Indeed, Zimmermann’s ability to shut the Yankees out for the next six innings played a key role in what eventually became a 3-2 Nationals victory and a 2-game series sweep of their vaunted opponents.

Zimmermann hasn’t always looked like his usual self this season, so the first-inning jam perhaps left some worried about what was to come. Neither he nor anyone in the Nats dugout, though, was concerned after Brett Gardner singled to right and Carlos Beltran doubled to right-center to open the game.

“Jordan was really good, on the corners down in the zone,” said manager Matt Williams, who watched much of the game on a clubhouse TV after getting ejected in the third inning along with Bryce Harper. “Gardner got a bloop hit, and then the double. They did a good job of moving him over to third and scoring the second one. But from then on, he was really good.”

Zimmermann’s explanation for the brief early struggle: Not enough variety in his pitch selection.

“First inning was just … they were on the fastball, and I just left a few over the middle,” he said. “I like to try and go a few innings with just the fastball, but I had to break everything out right away after the first.”

Once he began turning to his curveball and slider, especially early in the count, Zimmermann cruised. He needed only 41 pitches to complete his next four innings, leaving him with plenty of gas in the tank for the latter stages of the game. He wound up throwing 88 total pitches over his seven innings, allowing just three singles and a walk from the second through the seventh.

“I just told myself: ‘You have to start mixing it up and you can’t throw first-pitch fastballs to all these guys,'” he said. “They’re all good fastball hitters. I started throwing the curve and the slider and got them off-balance and was able to go seven.”

And thanks to his teammates’ late rally, Zimmermann was rewarded with a win, his fourth in a season that on the surface has appeared a bit inconsistent but actually has been quite impressive with one exception.

Throw out his disastrous start in Boston on April 13 — he was tagged by the Red Sox for seven earned runs in only 2 1/3 innings — and Zimmermann is 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 3.6-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio that isn’t far off from his career mark.

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 10:09 AM

    Hershey’s is smart. 24 + 108 = 132 bottles of chocolate sauce that Hershey’s will have shipped to Scherzer this week.

    Great publicity is priceless. ESPN just ran the story. Genius marketing. Not sure why there was 2 separate shipments but I guess 24 bottles wasn’t enough.

  2. Joe Seamhead - May 21, 2015 at 10:20 AM

    JZimm pitched great after the first. Matt Grace was effective and Drew was great!

    Also, a couple of notables from down on the farms:

    Giolito pitched 7 pretty good innings last night, giving up 3 runs, while striking out nine and earned his first win.

    Erik Davis pitched a scoreless inning with Syracuse and gave up 1 hit, no runs and had two strikeouts.

    Casey Janssen pitched a scoreless inning with Harrisburg, throwing 12 pitches, 10 for strikes, yet had no K’s

    • Joe Seamhead - May 21, 2015 at 10:46 AM

      I’m really pulling for Erik Davis. The kid has had a lot of really bad luck.

      Also, in San Antonio, as mentioned by someone yesterday, Trea Turner continues to impress at the plate with a slash of: .336/.423/.529/.941 He has 8 steals in 11 attempts

      Defensively, in 37 games he has helped turned 19 DP’s and only has 3 errors, all at SS.

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 21, 2015 at 10:58 AM

        Good thing he’s going to be leaving Texas soon…before the invasion.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 11:04 AM

      Thanks for the Giolito and Janssen updates!

      Grace was effective on his ERA but 2 consecutive walks was not good. If that 3rd out groundout goes 5 feet wider then its a tie ballgame.

  3. micksback1 - May 21, 2015 at 10:54 AM

    The only team better than Nats right now is the Cards, ugh

    • scnatsfan - May 21, 2015 at 10:58 AM

      Played golf with a Cards fan yesterday. Rained after 9 so we went to the bar to kill time. After a few beers and lengthy discussion we both bet the Cards and Nats last night so, at least for a night, I was a Cards fan.

    • Doc - May 21, 2015 at 11:27 AM

      True, like what else is new. Cards are like the sun and the moon, always there and always on time.

      Over time, whether we like it or not, the Cards may be the best run team in baseball–soon to be passed by the Nats!

  4. micksback1 - May 21, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    whose your daddy AROD????

    I Love it!!!!!

  5. TimDz - May 21, 2015 at 11:01 AM

    COMPLETELY disagree with this….

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/wp/2015/05/21/another-day-another-ejection-for-both-harper-and-williams/

    Chirping goes on all the time by the managers and others in the dugout. The problem was a thin skinned umpire that probably knew he missed the call. Marvin Hudson really overreacted and could have easily defused the situation (“Maybe I did miss it, but I can’t change it now,” would have sufficed), but he chose to inject himself into the game. Umpires are human and are going to make mistakes. It’s a part of the game…then again, so are the rubarbs that occur (at least they were until all this review stuff came about).

    Sorry Clinton Yates…you’re off target here (much like the ump was with his strike zone).

    • masterfishkeeper - May 21, 2015 at 11:21 AM

      Yates seems to specialize in taking outrageous positions in his little columns in the Post. The ones I’ve read have been poorly reasoned, so I don’t read them any more. I’m better for skipping his stuff!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 11:23 AM

        Click bait to get people doing just this.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 11:22 AM

      ESPN had the transcript of the 1st words to Hudson and Bryce did question the strike and curse. “That’s not even close. That’s so [expletive] bad” He could have been tossed then which would have made Hudson look ridiculous.

      Yates did write “Everyone agrees that Hudson had a needlessly quick hook.”

      The thing is like Sec 3 pointed out, in Bryce’s 1st at-bat it was the Yankees riding Hudson for giving Bryce the strike zone.

      Hudson had an awful day behind the plate as his K accuracy was poor, but Bryce might want to dial back the drama a little as you just don’t want to give these clowns ammunition.

      I applaud MW for his ejection. That was pretty good. Unfortunately the dirt was well compacted around the plate as MW’s kick in the dirt didn’t produce a good spray of dirt on Marvin’s dish.

      • Eric - May 21, 2015 at 11:26 AM

        I know the standard is to kick dirt ON the plate, but I actually had the impression MW was sweeping the dirt OFF of home plate, perhaps as if to say, “here, let me help you do your job” or ” let me help you see the strike zone better”?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 11:30 AM

        LOL, best ejection of MWs career!

      • Eric - May 21, 2015 at 11:53 AM

        Yeah, watch at 1:20:

        http://m.mlb.com/video/v123478083/nyywsh-harper-williams-get-ejected-in-the-3rd

        You can’t see his feet until he’s halfway through the second kick, but it does kind of seem like he clears it off, then goes and points at the ump’s box.

        The story in my mind is that he clears the plate to “help” Hudson see the zone better, then points to the ump’s box and says to Hudson, “now GET BACK IN THE BOX!”

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 12:30 PM

        I loved the emotion in the series. Big wins for the Nats.

      • masterfishkeeper - May 21, 2015 at 11:55 AM

        I wonder if Harper has more ejections at age 22 than any other player in MLB history? I’d guess yes.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 11:57 AM

        Need him on the field!

      • natsfan1a - May 21, 2015 at 12:04 PM

        This old school treatment of the ejection is pretty funny, imo (although Matt would probably say that there’s nothing funny about it):

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/wp/2015/05/21/what-bryce-harper-and-matt-williams-ejections-would-have-looked-like-in-the-1920s/

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2015 at 12:15 PM

        Classic! Music score was good also

      • nataddicted - May 21, 2015 at 12:23 PM

        Classic video! Just what we needed on an off day.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 21, 2015 at 2:24 PM

        I wonder if Harper has more ejections at age 22 than any other player in MLB history? I’d guess yes.

        I’m guessing Gary Sheffield.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 21, 2015 at 3:01 PM

        Trying to look this up, but it’s not easy. Which is odd, but there you are.

        I think Sheffield had 3 through his age-22 season. These two give Bryce a total of 5, so I think he might have that one locked up.

    • Doc - May 21, 2015 at 11:29 AM

      The ump’s main job should be to keep the game going—with the players.

      Hudson decided that he was more important than the game.

    • natsfan1a - May 21, 2015 at 12:05 PM

      Yeah, I didn’t agree with him either.

      • natsfan1a - May 21, 2015 at 12:05 PM

        “Him” would be Yates. (dang nesting comments get me every time)

    • Dave - May 21, 2015 at 3:51 PM

      Yates’s piece is just one of the most recent of a spate of very lazy, rather childish “columns” in which the writers toss off the most superficial impression of a situation.

      I find more and more that the only reliable sections of the WaPo website (for me) are front-page news, Capital Weather Gang, and Nationals Journal.

  6. Section 222 - May 21, 2015 at 12:06 PM

    Great stuff from JZnn, and from the comments so far this morning. So good to see the Nats in 1st place. That’s where we belong, and it’s pretty cool we got there on a night that Bryce didn’t contribute.

    I’m off for a trip to China, coming back on June 6. The time there is 13 hours ahead of here and i’ll have internet access mostly in hotels, so I’m not quite sure how I’m going to keep up with the Nats. But I’m pretty sure I’ll figure that out. One key component will be reading this blog, so hold down the fort.

    The next 18 game set ends after Zim’s bobblehead game on June 4, so my recap will be delayed. But never fear, I’LL BE BACK!

    • scnatsfan - May 21, 2015 at 12:38 PM

      safe trip

    • lowstrikes - May 21, 2015 at 12:39 PM

      Travel comfortably. You can visit the factory where they make the Nats’ baseball caps while you are there.

    • Eric - May 21, 2015 at 1:51 PM

      AtBat + audio made me feel quite at home in Turkey last September. Enjoy your trip!

  7. Eugene in Oregon - May 21, 2015 at 12:09 PM

    Observation:

    If a pitcher had been ejected (or injured), his replacement would have been given time to warm up in the bullpen and then make 8 pitches from the mound.

    But when a hitter is ejected (or injured), his replacement gets a few swings in the on-deck circle and then has to bat. No cuts in the cage, as it were.

  8. guyanesebanna - May 21, 2015 at 12:09 PM

    I don’t begrudge Marvin Hudson being a baseball fan as all the rest of us….
    BUT … If he is such an avid Barves fan and doesn’t like us Nats he should recuse himself from all NL East games just like judges do to avoid these apparent conflict of interest games….

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 21, 2015 at 1:42 PM

      This is what they mean by “it all evens out over a season.” The rest of the umpires hate the Braves, because … Braves. So there you are.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 21, 2015 at 1:44 PM

        But seriously, maybe it’s more like jury duty, except the sides don’t get challenges.

  9. nataddicted - May 21, 2015 at 12:19 PM

    Something else to chew over…

    I knew next to nothing about Dan Uggla prior to his being signed with us. Since then I can say his personality seems to be genuinely positive (see MASN for the Jonny Holiday interview), and he’s been a valuable addition to the team and will forever be the first chocolate bath recipient.

    http://www.masnsports.com/media.php?show_id=2496970&p=

    But there was a long stretch when he didn’t get in many games. I was thinking at the time it was about MW’s confidence in Uggla’s game.

    But I’ve come to realize it was about the lack of another infielder on the bench if he used Uggla to Pinch Hit. Same concept as pulling the starting catcher, you’re out of backups.

    All this is a long way of saying I’m glad we’ve finally made the correction to get another infielder on the team, and I hope that means both Dan Uggla and Wilmer Difo can get more opportunities to contribute.

    I’m also still pulling for @bathoarder Clint Robinson to catch fire, but he’s not playing much these days either.

    A third topic: Did anyone notice that we have FIVE rookies on the squad right now? Taylor, Difo, Grace, Solis, and Cole! Treinen’s rookie season was 2014.

    GYFNG

    • sec105rowwseat28 - May 21, 2015 at 1:23 PM

      Clint Robinson is also a rookie. Yes, a 30 year old rookie.

  10. Sec 3, My Sofa - May 21, 2015 at 2:25 PM

    ***************INADVERTENT WHISTLE *************************

    I accidentally REPORT COMMENT on somebody just now.
    Please disregard.

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