Four starts into his 2013 campaign, Washington Nationals' right-hander Jordan Zimmermann is (3-1) after taking the loss today in Flushing, Queens, New York's Citi Field. The 26-year-old Nats' right-hander now has a 2.67 ERA, 3.65 FIP, six walks (2.00 BB/9) and 15 Ks (5.00 K/9) in 27.0 innings of work in which he's allowed just two home runs, one of them New York Mets' catcher John Buck's solo blast this afternoon in the first at bat of the second. Zimmermann pitched around an error in the bottom of the first, and retired six straight batters after Buck's home run before walking David Wright to start the fourth. Wright would eventually score the Mets' only other run of the game, moving from first-to-third on an Ike Davis' single and scoring on a sac fly to center by Mike Baxter in what ended up being a 33-pitch fourth inning by the Nationals' starter.
That one long frame took Zimmermann from 43 to 76 pitches overall and a 20-pitch fifth in his final inning of work left him at 96 overall one start after he threw a complete game against the Miami Marlins on just 103 pitches. In addition to snapping a regular season unbeaten streak that stretched back nine starts to last August 26th when he lost to the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park, the Nationals' right-hander had a season-long streak of double-digit groundout games end when he got just seven ground ball outs today after inducing, 11, 10 and 14 in his first three starts of 2013.
Zimmermann still has another unbeaten streak going, however, which will be tested during the Nats' upcoming seven-game homestand when he takes on the Cincinnati Reds next Friday. After beating the Chicago White Sox in his second start of the year on April 10th in the nation's capital, the Nats' '07 2nd Round pick is, as @NationalsPR noted on Twitter, "7-0 with a 2.91 ERA in his last 13 starts at #Nationals Park, with his last loss coming on 5/17/2012 vs. PIT."
After Zimmermann beat the Marlins last week in a nine-inning outing in Miami in which he gave up six hits and three runs in 9.0 innings of work, the Auburndale, Wisconsin-born pitcher went 5.0 innings today in which he gave up just two hits and two runs, both earned, while walking three and striking out four.
"When he's right," Davey Johnson explained last week after Zimmermann's complete game against the Fish, "guys are trying to hit the ball, put the ball in play. He may not strike out that many, but he's getting a lot of easy outs." Nothing was easy for Zimmermann today, as he explained to reporters including MLB.com's Bill Ladson:
"I had to battle all day and I was behind in the count most of the day, and when you do that, you are going to throw a lot more pitches," Zimmermann said. "I felt good out there. My breaking pitches were really good. I didn't throw a first-pitch strike very often today. I had to work a lot harder."
"Zim throwing about 100 pitches in five innings is not typical, coming off a complete game..." Nats' skipper Davey Johnson told reporters after the loss in New York, "He threw a few more breaking balls. But he kept us in the ballgame and the bullpen did a good job." The Nats' offense, on the other hand, didn't get much done against Mets' starter Dillon Gee or the NY bullpen. "It was disappointing" Davey Johnson said before the team headed back to D.C. with a 10-8 record after a 3-3 road trip. "They pitched pretty good and we didn't swing the bats like we're capable of swinging them." And they offered no support to Zimmermann, who lost for the first time this year.