Davey Johnson talked about the pitch after the game. Carlos Gonzalez was probably still thinking about it. The 2-2 change Jordan Zimmermann threw to the Colorado Rockies' left-handed slugger was perfect. The perfect pitch, perfect set-up, perfect execution. Perfect. It was 5-1 game at the time with the Washington Nationals ahead in Nationals Park, but the Rockies were threatening, with a walk, error and single bringing in a run and leaving two runners on when Gonzalez stepped to the plate. Zimmermann started CarGo off with a 77 mph curve which the hitter fouled off. Then a 94 mph fastball; fouled, 0-2. 95 mph fastball; fouled. Gonzalez spit on a curve in the dirt, took a slider for ball two, 2-2, and fouled off another mid-90's heater...
• WATCH: Zimmermann's 2-2 change to Carlos Gonzalez at the :50 mark:
"I don't know if you guys were watching the last game," Jordan Zimmermann said in an interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier on Tuesday, "the [changeup] I threw to Carlos Gonzalez to strike him out in the eighth. In years past, I would never have thrown that pitch. I have the confidence now to throw to be able to throw that in a 2-2 count, big situation, I'll be able to throw that more this year. I don't know what happened, but I actually figured it out in Spring Training, how to throw it for strikes and not leave it in the middle of the zone."
The 88 mph 2-2 change the Nationals' right-hander dropped on the Rockies' slugger had Gonzalez completely fooled. He struck out swinging and Zimmermann then powered up and threw four straight fastballs by Michael Cuddyer for another swinging K and the third out of that inning in what ended up a 5-1 Nats' win.
Zimmermann talked in the interview on Tuesday about the addition of the change being an important part of his strong start to the 2013 campaign. Through 15 starts, the 27-year-old right-hander is (10-3) with a 2.26 ERA, a 3.11 FIP, eight home runs allowed (0.67 HR/9), 15 walks surrendered (1.25 BB/9) and 76 Ks collected (6.35 K/9) in 107 2/3 innings pitched, in which he has a career-high 50% ground ball percentage and career-low .241 BABIP-against. Opposing hitters have a .211/.246/.323 line against Zimmermann, who's (7-0) with a 0.92 ERA in eight starts at home in D.C. this season, and unbeaten in Nationals Park in his last nineteen outings in the nation's capital.
"I think mentally I'm the same," Zimmermann told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s hosts when asked what was different this season. "I have the mentality of just going after hitters and I know I'm going to give up some hits and give up some runs, but just to keep attacking and keep going after guys. But I think the changeup [has] really helped this year."
"It's a huge feel pitch. I've asked guys in the past how they throw their changeup and I finally figured one out that actually feels comfortable and going back to that at bat with Gonzalez, I threw a couple fastballs up in the zone that he was right on, so I knew if I got the changeup down in the zone and anywhere that remotely looks like a strike, he was going to swing at it and most likely be ahead of it, and it just happened to be it was the perfect pitch on the outside corner and he fanned at it."
"He's got some great outs with it," Davey Johnson told reporters after the win over the Rockies when asked about Zimmermann's newest weapon. "I mean, it's a great pitch, he's got such an explosive fastball and when they throw them that in a tight situation, it really fools them."
Zimmermann's previously said that the goal in adding the changeup to his repertoire was to give hitters something more to think about when they're preparing to face him. Safe to say the Arizona Diamondbacks will be aware of the right-hander's change when they step to the plate tonight to face Zimmermann in Nationals Park. Can they recognize it and lay off? Or possibly hit it?