As the Washington Nationals (@NationalsPR) noted on Twitter after 26-year-old, 2007 2nd Round pick Jordan Zimmermann's last start at home in the nation's capital, against the Chicago White Sox on April 10th, the Nationals' fifth-year starter is, "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." In two starts since the Auburndale, Wisconsin-native and the Nats beat the Sox 5-2 earlier this month, the right-hander has had mixed results on the mound with a 103-pitch complete game win over the Miami Marlins in Florida, and 96-pitch, five-inning outing in a loss to the New York Mets in Citi Field. Back home in Washington, D.C. tonight against Cincinnati, Zimmermann got off to a strong start with a quick, seven-pitch, 1-2-3 first in the second game of four between the Nationals and the Reds.
Zimmermann was back on the mound in a hurry for the second after 26-year-old Cincy starter Homer Bailey retired the Nats in order in the bottom of the first. A fly to right by Brandon Phillips, a swinging K by Jay Bruce and a pop to center by Todd Frazier ended Zimmermann's second scoreless after just 11 pitches, which had him at 18 overall after two scoreless frames. 0-0 in D.C. Ian Desmond doubled to the opposite field off Bailey with two down in the Nats' second, double no.9 on the year, but he was stranded there when Danny Espinosa K'd swinging to end the frame.
Reds' left fielder Xavier Paul singled to center for the first hit off Jordan Zimmermann to lead off the third, but a fly to center by catcher Corky Miller and a swinging K by the opposing pitcher got the Nats' starter two outs without Paul advancing past first and a Shin-Soo Choo liner back to the mound ended a 12-pitch inning. 30 pitches total after 3.0, still 0-0 in D.C. Homer Bailey set Kurt Suzuki, Zimmermann and Denard Span down in order in the home-half of the inning, and the Reds' right-hander was up up to 39 pitches after three scoreless innings of work.
A Cesar Izturis' groundout to first baseman Adam LaRoche in the top of the fourth was Jordan Zimmermann's fourth ground ball out from the first 11 batters he faced. Joey Votto worked the count full and took a 96 mph heater knee-high inside for a called strike three and out no.2, and Brandon Phillips hit groundout no.5 to Ian Desmond at short to end the frame. Grounder. Desmond. Out. 4.0 scoreless for the Nats' right-hander. The 11-pitch inning had Zimmermann at 41 overall. Bryce Harper lined an 86 mph 3-2 pitch change from Bailey into the right field corner and was off to the races, losing his helmet as he approached second and sliding in safely at third with his first triple of the year. Two pitches later it was a 1-0 game after Jayson Werth drove Harper in from third with a single through second. 1-0 Nationals after four.
Todd Frazier reached safely on an E3 with one out in the fifth, when a throw from third by Steve Lombardozzi pulled Adam LaRoche into the basepath and the Nats' first baseman dropped the ball in foul territory, but Frazier was stranded there two outs later when Jordan Zimmermann completed his fifth scoreless frame. The nine-pitch inning had Zimmermann at 50 pitches total after 5.0 vs the Reds. Homer Bailey got groundouts from Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki for the first two outs of the Nats' fifth, and Zimmermann hit a broken-bat blooper to short to end the Nationals' half of the inning. Still 1-0 Nats.
Groundout no.7 on the night for Jordan Zimmermann went out to short off Homer Bailey' bat in the first AB of the sixth. Grounder. Desmond. Out. No. 8 went to second off Shin-Soo Choo's bat, and a low liner to Desmond from Cesar Izturis ended a 10-pitch inning with Zimmermann at 60 pitches total, 41 of them strikes. Denard Span started the Nationals' sixth with a grounder through the right side of the infield. Span stole his fourth base of the year with Steve Lombardozzi at the plate, bringing Dusty Baker out for a chat with second base ump Sam Holbrook, who surprisingly didn't change his call. A weak one-hopper to short moved Span to third with one down. Homer Bailey came up and in on Bryce Harper in the first pitch of Harper's one-out at bat, and Bailey got a grounder back to the mound and a 1-2 putout when he threw home and Corky Miller held onto the ball in spite of a collision with Span. Harper then went too far off the first base bag on a pitch in the dirt from Bailey and got thrown out at first by Miller to end the sixth.
Groundout no.9 for Jordan Zimmermann went out to short off Joey Votto's bat. Grounder. Desmond. Out. No.10 was a 1-6-3, off Brandon Phillips' bat and Zimmermann's left arm to Desmond at short where made the play and a strong throw. Grounder. Zimmermann. Desmond. Out. Two down. Jay Bruce hit a bloop to short right Espinosa tracked down and it was 7.0 scoreless in the books for the Nats' right-hander, who was at 66 overall after 6-pitch frame. Homer Bailey retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the inning, and Zimmermann was quickly back out for the top of the eighth.
Todd Frazier took Zimmermann to a full count in the first at bat of the eighth before sending groundout no.11 to short. Grounder. Desmond. Out. Xavier Paul rolled no.12 out to second where Danny Espinosa made the play. Corky Miller got ahead 3-1 and took the first walk of the night from Zimmermann. Pinch runner Derek Robinson took over at first and pinch hitter Jack Hannahan stepped in for Homer Bailey (7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 6 Ks). Zimmermann went to a full count with the pinch hitter too, but got a swinging K with a slider to end a 20-pitch inning at 86 overall. Still 1-0 Nationals. Danny Espinosa singled through short off Jonathan Broxton to start the Nats' eighth. One out later, Jordan Zimmermann stepped to the plate to a round of applause since it meant he'd be back for the ninth. The Nats' starter K'd trying to bunt for out no.2. Espinosa stole second on a 2-0 pitch to Denard Span, but a groundout to short ended the eighth.
The 1-2-3 spots were lined up for the Reds in the top of the ninth. Shin-Soo Choo flew to left. ONE!!! Cesar Izturis popped out to Lombardozzi off third. Two outs with three pitches. But Zimmermann would have to get past Joey Votto? And he did. Fly to left. Ballgame. Zimmermann goes the distance.
Nationals win, 1-0 final.
Nationals now 12-11