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NLDS Game 2 Preview: Nationals' Jordan Zimmermann vs the Giants' Tim Hudson

The Washington Nationals turn to right-hander Jordan Zimmermann this afternoon after dropping Game 1 of the NLDS to the San Francisco Giants, who have Tim Hudson on the mound in Game 2 in Washington, D.C.'s Nationals Park.

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"They are a tough team to beat," Washington Nationals' skipper Matt Williams told reporters after last night's 3-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS.

"We'll see if we can give them a run tomorrow. And we have one of our best going again. We'll see if we can get them tomorrow."

Stephen Strasburg took the mound in the series opener in Nationals Park, giving up two runs, one earned on eight hits in five innings.

"They are good 1-through-8. Any one of them can take you deep at any time if you make a mistake. You know, they are experienced. That's for sure." -Jordan Zimmermann on facing the Giants

Tonight in Game 2, the Nats turn to Jordan Zimmermann, who is, of course, coming off a no-hitter against Miami and a second half of the 2014 campaign in which he went (8-0) with the Nationals 12-1 when he took the mound.

In 86 ⅔ IP after the All-Star Break, the 28-year-old, '07 2nd Round pick put up a 2.18 ERA, a 2.58 FIP, nine walks (0.93 BB/9), 81 Ks (8.41 K/9) and a .211/.241/.329 line against.

In his one start against San Francisco this season, on August 23rd in D.C., Zimmermann held the Giants to two runs on seven hits, striking out eight in eight innings of work in a 6-2 win.

He knows his opponent for Game 2 well, he explained yesterday, and knows there is a tough task ahead of him.

"They are good 1-through-8," Zimmermann told reporters.

"Any one of them can take you deep at any time if you make a mistake. You know, they are experienced. That's for sure. If you make your pitches and throw the game you want to throw, I mean, good things will happen. You have to stay out of the middle of the plate, pitch your game."

San Francisco's Game 2 starter, Tim Hudson, has plenty of experience against the Nationals, as well.

In two starts this season, the 16-year-veteran, who faced the franchise regularly during his time with the Braves, is (2-0) with a 0.73 ERA and a .239/.286/.304 line against in 12 ⅓ IP.

"There's obviously a lot of history between myself and these guys. We go back a lot of years from when I was with Atlanta. But obviously they're a different club now..." -Tim Hudson on facing a familiar opponent in the Nats

Knowing a team well works both ways, of course, as the 39-year-old righty told reporters in his own pre-start press conference on Friday.

"There's obviously a lot of history between myself and these guys," Hudson said. "We go back a lot of years from when I was with Atlanta. But obviously they're a different club now than [when] I faced them early on in my career.

"They're a really good ballclub. They have a lot of talent like I said. For me it's no secret what they're about. And it's no secret to them what I'm about. So, for me it's going out there and coming up with a good game plan, trying to watch a lot of video, see what their strengths and weaknesses are at this point in the year for those guys and come up with a good game plan. Obviously, familiarity can never be a bad thing for a pitcher. I feel like the more history you have against a team and the more history you have against hitters the better off you can be, but it can also go both ways.

"I think they obviously probably feel pretty famililar with me and what I'm going to bring to them, so it's all about making pitches, trying to come up with a good game plan, trying to keep those guys off-balance and execute pitches."

Hudson will be making his tenth postseason start this afternoon in Nationals Park, Zimmermann his second start and third postseason appearances after he lasted just three innings in St. Louis in Game 2 of the NLDS in 2012 then came back with a dominant inning out of the pen in Game 4.

Zimmermann said the experience of pitching in the postseason two years back has prepared him for the pressure and playoff atmosphere he'll be pitching in today.

"We really didn't know anything coming in two years ago," he explained. "Jayson [Werth] is the only guy who said, 'It will be crazy. Something you guys have never experienced.' You know, after going out there, and experiencing it one time, I think we are all more prepared now and kind of know what to expect."

Coming off the no-hitter against the Marlins and the Nationals' 19-8 September, Zimmermann sounded confident in himself and his teammates yesterday, before the series opening loss.

"Everybody is playing good," he said. "We are playing our best baseball right now. We feel good coming into this series, and we are peaking at the right time, I think."

While it's not a literal "must-win" game, it's close to it.

Going to San Francisco down 2-0 with Madison Bumgarner lined up for Game 3 of the five-game series would obviously not be ideal.

Can Zimmermann and the Nationals even things up this afternoon?