Auburndale, Wisconsin-born, thick-forearmed starter Jordan Zimmermann entered today's game undefeated at home over seventeen-straight starts going back to last May 17th's loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in Nationals Park. Over that stretch, Zimmermann was (10-0) with the Nats 14-3 when the '07 2nd Round pick was on the mound in the nation's capital. The Nationals' 27-year-old right-hander was (5-0) in six starts at home in 2013 before taking the hill against the Minnesota Twins in the first game of two today, with a 1.23 ERA and 2.89 FIP in 44.0 IP in his adopted home over which he'd held opposing hitters to a .205/.240/.283 line.
Working against the home team today in the Sunday matinee, however, was the fact that they were facing a left-handed starter this afternoon. The Nationals entered play with a .198/.265/.303 line vs LHP, good for 15th, 15th and 15th in the fifteen-team National League. This particular left-hander, Scott Diamond of the Twins, was also unbeaten on the road at (3-0) in five starts before today's game in Washington, D.C. with a 3.07 ERA and a 2.86 FIP in 29.1 IP away from Target Field in which he'd held opponents to .255/.287/.358 line. Something had to give... or one or both could get no-decisions...
Here's what happened:
Jordan Zimmermann needed 13 pitches to retire the Twins in order in a quick top of the first. Scott Diamond threw a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the inning in the first game of two the teams will play today in D.C. Zimmermann gave up a one-out walk to Twins' right fielder Chris Parmelee in the top of the second, but struck the next two batters out in what ended up a 23-pitch frame. 36 total after two. Jayson Werth started the home-half of the inning with the first hit of the game, sending a low liner through short on a 2-1 fastball from Minnesota's left handed starter. One out later, Ian Desmond, who had a 10-game hit streak entering play today, over which he was 12 for 39 (.308/.325/.538) with three doubles and two home runs, extended that streak to 11 games with a one-out single through the left side. Two outs later, however, both runners were stranded and Diamond was through two scoreless of his own on 28 pitches.
Jordan Zimmermann threw a high, 93 mph 0-2 heater by Twins' shortstop Pedro Florimon for the fourth K in 2.1 IP vs Minnesota this afternoon. A 93 mph full-count fastball with late bite got by Scott Diamond for out no.2 of the top of the third and Zimmermann's 5th K. Zimmemann missed outside with a backdoor 2-2 slider to Twins' infielder Eduardo Escobar, then walked the third baseman on the ninth pitch of their two-out at bat/battle. An 0-2 fastball to Clete Thomas was popped up over second, howeve-- but Anthony Rendon dropped it to put two on with two out. Ryan Doumit stepped in next, and went down swinging at a downright filthy, darting 1-2 change. 6 Ks for Zimmermann and the 28-pitch inning had the Nats' starter at 64 pitches overall after three. 0-0 in D.C.
Jeff Kobernus collected his first MLB hit on a slow one-out roller to third, beating Eduardo Escobar's throw to the first base bag, but he was running when Steve Lombardozzi lined up to center and he was doubled up to end Twins' left Scott Diamond's third scoreless frame against the Nationals. 0-0 after three in D.C.
Justin Morneau grounded to second on the first pitch of the fourth. Chris Parmelee hit the second pitch to right for Minnesota's first hit off the Nats' starter. A fly to right and force at second followed as Jordan Zimmermann wrapped up a quick, five-pitch top of the inning at 69 pitches overall with six Ks and four groundouts in four scoreless in which he'd allowed just one hit. 0-0 in Washington.
Scott Diamond gave up a one-out single to left by Jayson Werth in the Nationals' fourth, after which Werth was 2 for 2 in the four-hole today. Adam LaRoche singled through the right side in the next at bat to put two on for Ian Desmond, who was first-pitch swinging and singled through short. Werth was waved around by third base coach Trent Jewett on Desmond's hit and thrown out at home by Twins' left fielder Clete Thomas. Two down. And it looked like it would be three when Pedro Florimon made a diving play at short on a sharp grounder by Anthony Rendon, but the Twins' shortstop popped up and threw it by first, so two runs scored to make it 2-0 Nationals after four innings of play in the nation's capital.
Jordan Zimmermann threw a 2-2 fastball by Pedro Florimon for 7 Ks in 4.1 IP. The opposing pitcher connected with the first pitch he saw and sent a sharp grounder to third that Ryan Zimmerman backhanded, but Zim's throw to first pulled Adam LaRoche across the basepath and eventually off the bag into foul territory. E5. A fly to Steve Lombardozzi in foul territory in left by Eduardo Escobar and weak groundout to first by Clete Thomas followed in a 15-pitch inning that had Zimmermann at 84 overall after 5.0 scoreless. 7 Ks, six groundouts. 2-0 Nats.
Jeff Kobernus walked with one down in the Nats' fifth, but was forced out at second on a grounder to first by Steve Lombardozzi. Ryan Zimmerman bounced an opposite field double off the right field wall with two down to put runners on second and third. An intentional walk to Jayson Werth loaded the bases for Adam LaRoche, and the Nats' first baseman bounced a hard-hit, one-hop grounder off Twins' second baseman Brian Dozier's glove and then shoulder to knock one run in on what was somehow ruled a hit. 3-0 Nats. A legit single to center by Ian Desmond followed and it was 5-0 Nationals when Scott Diamond left the game. Twins' right-hander Ryan Pressly took over there, and gave up a two-run opposite field double by Anthony Rendon, 7-0 Nationals after five.
Jordan Zimmermann fell behind Ryan Doumit 3-0, but got his seventh groundout of the day from the Twins' catcher for out no.1 of the sixth. After a pop to second by Justin Morneau, Chris Parmelee doubled off the out-of-town scoreboard in right for the second hit of the game off the Nats' starter. A pop to left by Aaron Hicks ended Zimmermann's sixth scoreless after 14 pitches with the right-hander at 98 overall in 6.0 IP in which he K'd seven and induced seven ground ball outs. Still 7-0 Washington.
After the Nationals got a one-out single by Steve Lombardozzi but nothing else in the bottom of the sixth, Jordan Zimmermann came back out to the mound and threw a quick, 14-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh, striking out pinch hitter Chris Colabello to end his outing at 111 pitches overall in 7.0 IP in which he struck out eight and induced seven ground ball outs. Twins' right-hander Caleb Thielbar gave up a two-out walk to Anthony Rendon in the bottom of the seventh, but a sharp lineout to short by Kurt Suzuki ended the home-half of the inning.
Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks, 111 P, 77 S, 7/4 GO/FO.
Nationals' lefty Ian Krol took over on the mound in the eighth and threw a quick, nine-pitch, 1-2-3 inning vs the Twins. Still 7-0 Nats. Thielbar came back out for the bottom of the eighth and held it to seven-run lead with a scoreless frame. Xavier Cedeno made his debut with the Nationals in the top of the ninth. A 78 mph 0-2 curve got Justin Morneau looking for out no.1 ONE! Chris Parmelee grounded out first. TWO!! Aaron Hicks? Single to left. Brian Dozier stepped in with one on and two out and walked. Pedro Florimon grounded out to third. Ballgame.
Nationals win, 7-0 final.
Nationals now 30-31