Nationals 4-0 over Dodgers: Jordan Zimmermann's 120th start reminds him of his first

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals played two hours and fifty-nine minutes of baseball on Monday night, interrupted by a three hour and seventeen minute rain delay. By the time it was over, Jordan Zimmermann said he'd forgotten what happened....

Washington Nationals' right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, then the no.1 prospect in the organization, made his Major League debut on April 20, 2009 in Nationals Park in a game against the Atlanta Braves which was scheduled for 7:05 pm EDT. It was delayed by rain for two hours though, so it actually started at a little after nine o'clock that night.

By the time it ended, around midnight, after an eighth inning rain delay, Zimmermann was (1-0) in the majors, having put up an impressive line in his first major league outing:

Zimmermann: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 72 P, 51 S, 9/5 GO/FO.

Here's our scouting report from that night's game:

"Most impressive tonight was Zimmermann's fastball which he dialed up a few times, hitting 95 and even 96 mph on the radar gun throughout the evening, coming up and inside to several hitters who couldn't catch up and were often chasing it out of the zone, and when he followed the fastball with a slider 7-10 miles slower, and a curve which he struggled to locate, but used to get one particularly memorable K from Larry "Chipper" Jones, Zimmermann looked every bit the part of a major league pitcher."

Nats' catcher Jesus Flores told MLB.com's Bill Ladson that Zimmermann showed, "'... tremendous command with his pitches (and) threw the ball very well.'"

Zimmermann told Mark Zuckerman it was a great way to begin his career with the Nationals.

"'I couldn't ask for a better start,'" Zimmermann said. "'I mean getting the win, pitching against the Braves...just a great day.'"

After his 120th major league start, a four-inning, rain-interrupted outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night, Zimmermann told reporters that he was reminded of that April night in 2009 when he first pitched in the majors for the Nationals.

"I had good command of the fastball today and I was locating pretty well. And I wish the rain wouldn't have come..." - Jordan Zimmermann after Monday's rain-shortened start

"It brought me back to my first start here," he said. "It was a couple hour rain delay and about the same amount of people, so that's what it kind of reminded me of."

There were 12,473 tickets sold to Zimmermann's first start in 2009, but only a few hundred fans in Nationals Park when the game ended.

There was an announced crowd 25,447 Monday night, but after 2:59 of baseball that was interrupted by a 3:17 rain delay, there was a crowd of a few hundred Dodgers fans on the third base side of the stands and the remaining Nationals fans on the home team's side as the two teams finished up the first game of LA's three-game set in D.C.

"It's a game," Zimmermann said. "You have to play no matter how many fans are out there. The place wasn't exactly rocking, but it was a game we had to play and we wanted to win and we got the win that was the main thing."

While he was on the mound, the 27-year-old Nats' '07 2nd Round pick was sharp, holding the Dodgers to five hits in four scoreless innings which he completed on just 55 pitches. When he was done for the night, he was up to ten scoreless innings over his last two outings, going back through the 6 1/3 scoreless he threw in Minute Maid Park last week.

Zimmermann said tonight he was disappointed that rain ended his outing.

"I felt good," he explained. "I had good command of the fastball today and I was locating pretty well. And I wish the rain wouldn't have come, it was one of those game where I had a lot of things working and felt my command was pretty good."

"They're something special out there. Every time they come in it seems like they're putting up zeros..." - Jordan Zimmermann on the Nationals' bullpen

The Nationals led 2-0 when rain interrupted play in the fourth. Anthony Rendon's two-run home run off Zack Greinke in the first provided all the offense the Nats needed, but Danny Espinosa tacked on two runs with a two-run home run off debuting Dodgers' right-hander Pedro Baez in the eighth.

Aaron Barrett, Jerry Blevins, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano followed Zimmermann on the mound and held LA off the board through five scoreless innings of relief work.

"They're something special out there," Zimmermann said when asked about the strong showing from the bullpen.

"Every time they come in it seems like they're putting up zeros," he added. "So it was great, they did a great job."

Zimmermann threw for a while after the delay, but when it dragged on the Nationals made the obvious decision to shut the starter down and turn the game over to the 'pen.

"I was throwing a little bit in the beginning," Zimmermann told reporters.

"And they said it was going to be over an hour, an hour and a half, and they decided it wouldn't be a good idea for me to go out there and try to give them a few more innings and risk hurting myself so they shut me down pretty early and let me know."

After his seventh start of the season, Zimmermann was down to a 2.92 ERA and a 2.94 FIP after 37 IP in which he's walked eight (1.95 BB/9) and struck out 38 (9.24 K/9). Barrett earned the win, improving to (2-0) on the year with his first decision since he earned the win on Opening Day. The Nationals improved to 18-14 overall with the win, and when the Atlanta Braves dropped their seventh straight game, 17-14, Washington took over first place in the NL East by a .5 game.

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