Before tonight's start, Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson talked about Jordan Zimmermann pitching on extra rest as he had to after Tuesday's game with the Detroit Tigers was postponed due to inclement weather in the nation's capital. "It's something you have to get used to," Johnson told reporters. "He's awfully strong and sometimes when he gets too much rest he kind of has a tendency to kind of jump at the hitters, not stay loaded longer. He has a tendency to be more aggressive going forward. But that's something you just learn about yourself. And I think he's come a long way. I think he knows a lot about himself, knows about what he needs to do."
On regular rest, Washington's starter had a (16-8) record with a 2.61 ERA, 56 walks (1.41 BB/9) and 221 Ks (7.80 K/9) in 40 starts and 255.1 IP so far in his career heading into his seventh start this year. In 47 starts on five or six day's rest, the Nats' 26-year-old right-hander had a 4.00 ERA with 54 walks (1.70 BB/9) and 202 Ks (6.78 K/9) in 268.0 IP before tonight. The extra rest didn't hurt Zimmermann this time, however, though he made some adjustments in terms of his pitch selection. The Nationals' '07 2nd Round pick had his scoreless inning streak snapped at 20-straight when Tigers' slugger Miguel Cabrera singled in a run in the third, but it was the only run Zimmermann allowed in 7.0 innings or work in the win over Detroit.
Zimmermann's Line: (W, 6-1), 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 101 P, 72 S, 7/1 GO/FO.
In a post game interview on MASN, the Auburndale, Wisconsin-born pitcher, who appeared on tv in a camouflage undershirt that looked like the sort of wallpaper that makes a room like it's in the woods, said it was a little strange waiting around for the delayed start, but once he got on the mound he was able to adjust to what he had working.
"It was one those days where I had a little extra rest," Zimmermann said, "And I didn't feel as great as I have in the past. The curve ball wasn't very good and the changeup wasn't good, so we just stuck with the fastball and slider and those were pretty good tonight."
"You don't feel as good," Zimmermann explained when asked about the extra days off, "and obviously my numbers aren't very good when I have a little more rest. But, I tried going out there and pitching the way I've been doing all year and trying to go as deep as I can and change that luck."
"He pitched a great ballgame," Davey Johnson told reporters after Zimmermann earned his sixth win. "I was entertaining sending him back out there, but I figured that one took a lot out of him. Extra day's rest, you guys told me he's not usually himself after too much rest. But a great ballgame. Good defense. Timely hitting. That's what it takes."
"He didn't change his game plan," Johnson explained, "He mixed his pitches up, but basically went right after them with the fastball. You could tell he was pumped up. I don't think I've seen him throwing that hard all the way through. Through the seventh he was getting it up there."
Fans in the nation's capital got a glimpse of the fiery attitude Zimmermann has on the mound during a relief appearance in Game 4 of the NLDS last October, but the Nats' skipper assured reporters tonight that it was always there even if the right-hander didn't normally show his emotions on the mound. "He doesn't show a lot of outward expression," Johnson said, "But there's a big fire burning in there. He likes just about any challenge." And the Nationals' starter has stepped up to and met every one early this season.
After seven starts and 51.0 IP this season, Zimmermann has a 1.59 ERA, a 2.76 FIP, nine walks (1.59 BB/9) and 34 Ks (6.00 K/9). In the sixth inning, Zimmermann gave up back-to-back two-out singles before retiring striking Alex Avila out to end the frame. In the seventh, Austin Jackson singled with two down to bring the tying run to the plate. No pitchers were warming. Johnson said afterwards he never even thought about going to the pen at that point.
"I just had total confidence in him," Johnson said, "I think he hit 100 pitches. And I think he can go 110 pitches, 115 pitches. I mean, I didn't see any drop-off in his stuff in the seventh inning. He's pitched so well, I didn't want to bring in anybody in the inning. He's earned that right. So, no I was confident." The Nats' skipper's confidence was rewarded once again.