As MLB.com noted in an article about 28-year-old Washington Nationals' starter Jordan Zimmermann's efficient outing against St. Louis last night, as impressive as his 76-pitch, eight-inning start against the Cardinals was, it was only the fourth-lowest pitch total recorded in an eight or nine-inning complete game "since pitch counts have been recorded." Zimmermann was also one of four pitchers on the list of ten, who suffered a loss while throwing a complete game on between 70-76 pitches.
Unfortunately for the Nats' '07 2nd Round pick, one of the 76 pitches he threw last night in Busch Stadium was a 1-0 change to Cards' first baseman Matt Adams, who hit it out to center field for a second inning solo home run that was all the support Cardinals' starter Lance Lynn needed in what ended up a 1-0 win in the first game of the three-game weekend set in St. Louis.
The start left Zimmermann with a 0.36 ERA in his last 25 IP, over which he's held opposing hitters to a .120/.141/.193 line in wins over the Phillies and Padres and last night's loss to the Cardinals. Zimmermann has bounced back nicely from a rough month of May. Nats' skipper Matt Williams was happy with the effort though disappointed that it didn't result in a win.
"He's been really good," Williams told reporters after the game. "Hung a changeup to Adams and didn't get that pitch where he wanted to get it, but other than that, he induced some double plays and we played good defense behind him, we just didn't scratch one across tonight, but that's a testament to how their guy pitched."
It was the second straight complete game for Zimmermann, who became the first Nationals' starter since 2005 to go the distance in consecutive outings:
Jordan Zimmermann becomes the first pitcher in #Nats (2005-present) history to throw back-to-back complete games.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 14, 2014
"Last time he was at 114 in nine innings," Williams noted.
"Tonight he was really efficient, with the exception of one pitch, but he continues to keep us in games and give us a chance."
"I had a good fastball again tonight and down in the zone," Zimmermann said. "And the curveball and sliders were there when I wanted them. Really it was one mistake on a changeup that was down the middle and he made me pay."
"It was right down the middle," Zimmermann explained when asked about the change to Adams.
"[Tried] to throw it down and away and have him roll over. The at bats after that I just threw fastball down and away and he grounded out."
Cardinals' right-hander Lance Lynn was perfect through 5 1/3 before Jose Lobaton singled to break up his bid for a perfect game. Lynn ended up throwing eight scoreless on 111 pitches before Trevor Rosenthal came on to earn the save in the ninth.
Zimmermann spared the Nats' bullpen for the night and mowed batters down, pounding the zone with 57 of his 76 pitches strikes and inducing 14 groundouts from the 26 batters he faced while striking out five.
"I was throwing a lot of strikes and they knew that and they were coming up hacking," he said. "I was locating the fastball and got a lot of ground balls tonight and those guys behind me played great defense and turned a couple double plays, which was great."
Unfortunately, the Nationals couldn't figure Lynn out in what ended up being a two hour and three minute 1-0 loss.