Davey Johnson answered the first few questions about Bryce Harper. The veteran manager provided updates on the Washington Nationals' outfielder after Harper saw the Dodgers' team doctor, explaining what he knew to reporters after the 20-year right fielder knocked himself out of last night's game, but not out entirely, apparently, when he ran face first into the right field fence in Dodger Stadium while tracking down a fly ball off Dodgers' catcher A.J. Ellis' bat.
The good news last night was that there was no concussion and Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore this afternoon that Harper had, "... X-rays on his left leg and left shoulder late last night, and both tests came back negative." Harper's officially listed as day-to-day. After talking about the 11 stitches Harper got, the Nats' skipper assured everyone last night that, "He'll be all right." He then made sure to note that something else noteworthy happened in the Nationals' first game in Los Angeles.
"He'll be all right," Johnson said, "But the big news, [Jordan Zimmermann] pitched a great ballgame. Another great ballgame. Probably got a little bit tired there at the end, but heck of a ballgame, you know, he's been outstanding."
Zimmermann gave up two runs on nine hits in 7.2 innings of work last night in the Nats' 6-2 win, walking no one, striking out five and throwing 101 pitches, 67 for strikes.
The Nats' starter got 10 ground ball outs from the 31 batters he faced and pitched out of trouble when he found himself in it, which was often since he allowed the leadoff runner to reach of five of the eight innings he pitched in.
Nick Punto singled to start the third, but got doubled up in the next at bat. Dodgers' shortstop Dee Gordon singled to start the fourth, stole second and took third on a wide, wild throw to second by Kurt Suzuki. With a runner on third and no outs, Zimmermann proceed to retire the next three batters in order, popping Adrian Gonzalez up in front of Matt Kemp, who K'd swinging before Andre Ethier grounded sharply to first. Adam LaRoche handled Ethier's grounder and tossed to the covering pitcher to complete Zimmermann's fourth scoreless. That 12-pitch frame had him at 45 overall after four in LA.
The leadoff triple that resulted from Harper's run-in with the right field wall allowed the Dodgers' first run to score in the fifth with Ellis scoring from third on a groundout to second by Skip Schumaker. Carl Crawford doubled to start the Dodgers' sixth and worked his way around to third, but was stranded there. Andre Ethier singled to start the seventh but was stranded at second three outs later. Three of LA's nine hits off Zimmermann came in the eighth when Carl Crawford, Gonzalez and Kemp collected hits that brought a run around, and ended the Nats' 26-year-old, right-hander's eighth outing. After he was done and the runners he let on were retired, Zimmermann had a 1.69 ERA, 2.64 FIP, nine walks (4.0 BB%) and 39 Ks (17.3 K%) over 58.2 IP so far in 2013.
The next few questions that followed Johnson's mention of Zimmermann in last night's post game press conference went back to Harper and his scary collision with the fenced face of the out-of-town scoreboard that serves as the right field wall in Dodger Stadium with Johnson explaining that though Harper's tough, he was cut by something he hit hard.
The 70-year-old former major leaguer admitted, however, that telling his young outfielder to play with caution was pointless. "He's just going to go," Johnson said, "He's not worried about the wall or anything. He should know he's on the warning track and back off a little bit, but that's not in his nature. And I don't want to change him. I feel sad for the walls, because he's going to keep running into them."
Harper confirmed as much on his own Twitter account this afternoon (@BHarper3407):
I will keep playing this game hard for the rest of my life even if it kills me! Ill never stop! #RespectTheGame— Bryce Harper (@Bharper3407) May 14, 2013
Johnson managed to return to Zimmermann's effort once more before his time with reporters was up, praising the work the pitcher did in another in a string of strong outings by the '07 2nd Round pick. "His pitch count was fairly good," Johnson said, but 18 pitches into the eighth he'd gone over a hundred and recorded two outs with a left-hander due up. "I figured if he didn't run into trouble I'd left him finish the game," Johnson explained, "but I really didn't like the matchup, he's had a little trouble with [Andre] Ethier and had given up three hits," so Johnson turned to Tyler Clippard for the final out of the eighth and Drew Storen for the ninth to wrap up the game.
What did the Nats' manager think of Zimmermann pitching his way out of trouble all night? "I think when the guy was on third with no outs and he got out of that," Johnson said, "just shows you what kind of pitcher he is."
• Watch Zimmermann's Highlight Reel: