After taking the loss in last night's game in spite of a strong effort in which he allowed just two runs on eight hits in 7.0 IP in his fourteenth start of 2012, 26-year-old Washington Nationals' right-hander Jordan Zimmermann is (3-6) with a 2.89 ERA, 3.88 WHIP, 17 walks (1.69 BB/9) and 64 K's (6.38 K/9) in 90.1 IP this season. With the two runs of support last night provided by the Nats' offense, Zimmermann now has the fourth-lowest RS/IP (Runs Scored/IP) in the majors this year with just 2.4 RS/IP and the 10th lowest RS/GS in MLB with just 3.1 RS/GS, just ahead of tonight's starter, Edwin Jackson (3.2 RS/GS) on that list.
In what wasn't Zimmermann's sharpest outing of the year he made just a few costly mistakes. A 1-1 four-seamer up and in to O's first baseman Mark Reynolds in the third got crushed for a two-out solo HR and a one-out HBP on Nick Johnson in the fifth, when Zimmermann was up in the count, proved costly after the back-to-back two-out singles by Brian Roberts and J.J. Hardy that followed drove Johnson in for what was the eventual winning run. The pitch that Hardy hit was actually a good one, with Zimmermann going low and away with a 94 mph four-seam Hardy went down for and lined over short for an RBI single.
"[Zimmermann] pitched his heart out," Nats' skipper Davey Johnson told reporters after the game.
"I mean he pitched a great ballgame. The difference was probably just a couple inches. [J.J.] Hardy hit the ball right over [short] and drove in the go-ahead run and [Jesus Flores] hit a bullet and Hardy made a hell of a play on it." The second play the manager refers to occurred in the seventh when the Nationals put two on with two out and saw Flores rip a line drive to short that looked like an RBI single until a well-timed leap by Hardy kept it from making it to the outfield grass.
O's skipper Buck Showalter was impressed with what he saw from Zimmermann in Camden Yards last night too, telling reporters that the Nationals' starter's performance was indicative of the good pitching the Nats have gotten all season. "Zimmermann's got a 2.90-something ERA," Showalter said, "I mean there's a reason they are where they are in the National League and in baseball in general. They go deep in their games with their starters and they've got [a] good bullpen that makes leads matter."
"[Zimmermann's] been doing that all year long," Johnson said separately, "He's pitched great. We just haven't been scoring for him. We hit the ball hard today with runners on and just came up [with] zilch." The Nationals were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and they K'd 10 times against Orioles' right-hander Jason Hammel. The O's were 1 for 7 w/RISP with Hardy's hit the only one they needed to get the win.
"He's pitched great. What's his record?," Davey Johnson asked reporters. "3-6? He's pitched a lot better than that. That's for dang sure." Zimmermann hasn't won a game since May 22nd in Philadelphia though the Nationals are 3-3 in his six starts since then. He's posted a 3.32 ERA, 8 walks (1.89 BB/9) and 26 K's (6.16 K/9) over 38.0 innings in those outings. He's pitched at least 6.0 inning in all of his starts this season, something no other Nats' starter has done. He just hasn't won.