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Zimmermann steps up to help Nats bullpen

Jun 2, 2015, 4:40 PM EDT

Jun 2, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) throws to the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning in game one of a double header at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

With a taxed bullpen, a doubleheader to manage and the highest-scoring MLB team in town, the Nationals turned to Jordan Zimmermann on Tuesday hoping for a long and efficient start. They got just that, as Zimmermann carved up the Toronto Blue Jays in his best game of the 2015 season so far on a dark and rainy afternoon in Washington.

Zimmermann was brilliant through eight scoreless innings with six scattered hits and a walk allowed. He even got a single off Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey, who himself had his best start in about a month with two runs allowed across six innings.

Dickey was good, but Zimmermann was better in the 2-0 win. The right-hander is now 5-2 with a 2.88 ERA on the season, having thoroughly moved past his inconsistent April to join Max Scherzer as a powerful one-two punch in the Nationals’ rotation.

“If we get in a situation like we have been where the bullpen has been used pretty heavy, you know when he goes out there, he’s gonna give you an opportunity to rest those guys as much as possible and can go deep in a game,” manager Matt Williams said.

“It’s really helpful. We can have games like today where two is enough and length and all of those things that we talked about. It’s important to have that. It helps rest your bullpen. It doesn’t put pressure on your offense to go out and score four or five. So days like today, like this game, can happen… It starts with the guy that steps on the mound in the first inning. They can take control of the game one way or another. Like today, Jordan was in control from the first pitch on and did a great job for us.”

The Blue Jays entered the day average 5.15 runs per game, tops in the majors. Their lineup is a gauntlet of big bats with four-time All-Star Jose Reyes setting the table at the top.

For Zimmermann, keeping Reyes in check was the key.

“The biggest thing was keep Reyes off the bases. Those guys in the middle aren’t going to hurt you if Reyes isn’t on base, and I was able to do that tonight. I felt good from the beginning,” he said.

To shut down a team that generally has no problem scoring runs made Zimmermann’s day even more impressive to teammates.

“I think the Blue Jays are a great hitting team,” Bryce Harper said. “They hit for a lot of power and do things the right way up there at the plate, so tough team to face, but having Jordan out there, it’s a guy you want on the mound every single night, and he’s very good. So all the credit to him.””I think the Blue Jays are a great hitting team. They hit for a lot of power and do things the right way up there at the plate, so tough team to face, but having Jordan out there, it’s a guy you want on the mound every single night, and he’s very good. So all the credit to him.”

Zimmermann got through eight innings on 105 pitches before Drew Storen took over to earn his 17th save of the season. The day went about as well as the Nationals could have planned and Zimmermann was happy to hand the ball over after doing exactly what was asked of him.

“That’s Drew’s job, and he can have it. I was fine going eight and giving my team a chance to win, and Drew did a great job,” Zimmermann said.

  1. Eric - Jun 2, 2015 at 4:46 PM

    Storen and especially Zinn may have just posted the most clutch performances of the season to date. I mean, who would’ve ever imagined that we’d beat the blue jays without turning to a single person who pitched last weekend?

    Bravo, chaps!

    • natsguy - Jun 2, 2015 at 5:29 PM

      Allo Ducky!!! Chaps???

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 2, 2015 at 5:54 PM

      Well, one of, anyway. I still have to go with Uggla in the Big Braves Game Comeback for top prize so far.

      • Eric - Jun 2, 2015 at 6:20 PM

        I agree it’s easy to argue that Uggla’s homer is at the same level, but it didn’t quite so directly and obviously spare others as Zinn and Storen’s perfomance did today. Can you imagine the condition of our bullpen if Zinn had gone only 4 or 5 innings?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 2, 2015 at 6:51 PM

        +2015 Sofa

  2. philipd763 - Jun 2, 2015 at 4:57 PM

    Nice win! Great pitching by JZ which enabled the Nats to avoid their 8th inning relievers.

  3. thecynicin408 - Jun 2, 2015 at 5:04 PM

    I agree wholeheartedly with Eric’s post.

    And sorry to anyone who felt my complaints in the last thread were whiny.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 2, 2015 at 6:02 PM

      Why, did someone say something?

      I mean, yeah, they kinda were, but if you’re getting graded on a curve for this joint, they were well inside the line.

  4. raleighnat - Jun 2, 2015 at 5:19 PM

    Makes me wanna lock this guy up so he and Scherzer can be a one two punch for several more years!

    • Eric - Jun 2, 2015 at 5:28 PM

      +1!

    • npb99 - Jun 2, 2015 at 6:39 PM

      The only way to keep him now is to outbid everyone else next winter.

  5. jd - Jun 2, 2015 at 5:48 PM

    Lineup for game2:

    Escobar, Desmond,Harper,Moore, Robinson,Espinosa, Lobaton, Taylor, Scherzer.

  6. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 2, 2015 at 5:52 PM

    Largely unremarked-upon, but without Znn’s single, that two-run inning probably goes nowhere.

    • adcwonk - Jun 2, 2015 at 6:07 PM

      With runners on second and third and one out, Harper stepped up to bat. Normally, that would be an automatic intentional walk. But Bryce had looked so bad in his first two at-bats, the Blue Jays decided to pitch to him.

      Here was the key, and FP made a big deal out of it.

      Harper did look pretty bad prior to that at bat. But here, he completely shortened his swing, spread his stance, and did not lift his front foot.

      (Sniff, our kid is growing up)

      He has a thing or to to teach some of our older batters about situational hitting. (Yes, Ian, I’m looking at you)

    • adcwonk - Jun 2, 2015 at 6:08 PM

      With runners on second and third and one out, Harper stepped up to bat. Normally, that would be an automatic intentional walk. But Bryce had looked so bad in his first two at-bats, the Blue Jays decided to pitch to him.

      Here was the key, and FP made a big deal out of it.

      Harper did look pretty bad prior to that at bat. But here, he completely shortened his swing, spread his stance, and did not lift his front foot.

      (Sniff, our kid is growing up)

      He has a thing or to to teach some of our older batters about situational hitting. (Yes, Ian, I’m looking at you)

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 2, 2015 at 6:14 PM

        Wasn’t it Desmond who tweeted something about how uncomfortable the long bus rides are in the minors, and Harper responded with #GetBetter ?

      • Eric - Jun 2, 2015 at 6:22 PM

        Ouch! When was that?

      • natsfan1a - Jun 2, 2015 at 7:19 PM

        Well, kinda sorta. Bryce tweeted about an uncomfortable bus ride, and Desi countered with “try playing in the minors for six years,” to which Bryce responded “complain to @MilbProblems! #dontlikeitgetbetter”

        Context: @Milb problems is a humorous tweeter account where minor league players post gripes. Coincidentally (or not), Bryce’s bro Bryan posted/posts to said account on occasion. My own thinking is that the exchange was cooked up as a reason to promote the @Milb problems site. I rather doubt it was an honest-to-goodness spat between Desi and Bryce. But that’s just me. (@Milb problems, September 2, 2013; Google with the search assist)

        “Wasn’t it Desmond who tweeted something about how uncomfortable the long bus rides are in the minors, and Harper responded with #GetBetter?”

  7. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 2, 2015 at 5:56 PM

    @ZuckermanCSN
    #Nats G2 vs. #BlueJays RHP Estrada:
    Escobar 3B, Desmond SS, Harper RF, Moore 1B, Robinson LF, Espinosa 2B, Lobaton C, Taylor CF, Scherzer P

    Wow. Good thing it’s Max going.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 2, 2015 at 6:25 PM

      I saw that lineup in a split squad game. They can score runs. TyMo is hitting better than RZim and CRob better than Werth. Go Washington Nationals!!!!

  8. langleyclub - Jun 2, 2015 at 6:14 PM

    Interesting that the Nats chose to play Moore at 1b and Robinson in LF rather than the other way around. Moore has far more OF experience than Robinson.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 2, 2015 at 6:16 PM

      That’s so that if they need to switch Robinson and Scherzer for one hitter for a match-up, it’s not so disruptive to the infield.
      😉

      • adcwonk - Jun 2, 2015 at 6:41 PM

        Excellent analysis!!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 2, 2015 at 6:54 PM

        I just spit out my beer

      • natsfan1a - Jun 2, 2015 at 7:20 PM

        lol

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