Sep 30, 2015, 9:22 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals aren’t exactly putting forth their best performance in the waning days of a lost season.
For the second straight night, they were shut down by a Braves pitching staff that has ranked among the league’s worst all year. Despite a bunch of golden opportunities early against Williams Perez, they could not push a single run across the plate.
That made life plenty difficult for Jordan Zimmermann, who in what likely was his final start as a member of the Nationals gave up two quick runs but then put up zeroes after that before departing for a pinch-hitter in the seventh. The winningest pitcher in club history wound up on the losing end of his finale, a frustrating way for his 9-year career with the organization to conclude.
HITTING LOWLIGHT: For the second straight night, the Nationals were shut down by an unaccomplished Braves right-hander. It was Matt Wisler on Tuesday. This time it was Perez, who tossed six scoreless innings. Not that the Nats didn’t give themselves opportunities. They put nine men on base (five in scoring position) through those six innings against Perez, but came away without a single run. Bryce Harper was among those who struggled, going 0-for-4 to extend his slump to 3-for-26 and drop his batting average to .331, leaving him tied for the moment with Miami’s Dee Gordon for the NL lead.
PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: If this was the end for Zimmermann — and there’s every reason to believe it was — it was a disappointing conclusion to a disappointing season in an otherwise fantastic career with the Nationals. He made a couple of early mistakes, giving up a pair of 2-out RBI singles, to put himself in a 2-0 hole. Then he settled down and pitched effectively through the sixth inning, only to be pulled for a pinch-hitter because his teammates hadn’t scored at all and needed to attempt a rally. That was a hallmark of Zimmermann’s early days with the franchise, when he was among the hardest-luck pitchers in baseball. But he benefited plenty from offensive support in more recent years. He’ll end this season, though, with a 13-10 record, a 3.66 ERA (his highest since 2010), 164 strikeouts and 39 walks in a career-high 33 starts that racked up 201 2/3 innings.
KEY STAT: The Nats still need to win one of their final four games to avoid their first losing record since 2011.
UP NEXT: The series concludes at 7:10 p.m. Thursday when Stephen Strasburg (10-7, 3.63) makes his final start of a tumultuous season against Braves right-hander Ryan Weber (0-2, 5.91).
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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