You can't even call it a "mistake" pitch really, that "one bad pitch" that mars an otherwise solid outing.
It was shoulder-high, up in the zone outside and Pence still managed to hit it out to center field in Nationals Park somehow, clearing the high GEICO wall for a two-run blast in the opening frame after Giants' leadoff man Angel Pagan doubled to right to start the game.
Pence's 18th home run of the season accounted for the only runs Zimmermann allowed in eight innings on the mound, but it was a big topic of discussion in both the pitcher's and Nats' manager Matt Williams' post game interviews.
"There's only one guy in the game that's going to hit that pitch and that's him," Zimmermann joked. "I threw it right where I wanted it. 0-2, up by his shoulders and it beats me how he hit it that far."
Actual location of Zimmermann's 0-2 fastball that Pence homered on. Literally 15 inches above top of strike zone! pic.twitter.com/x5ocKWccob— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) August 24, 2014
The absurdity of the blast also made it easier to get over though.
"That was like, 'Wow!'" Zimmermann said. "You can't do anything about that. Tip your cap, I guess. The only way you can hit that is if he's looking for that pitch in that spot. I don't know if that's what he was looking for or what, but he's up there hacking and you don't have to throw him a strike 0-2. He's a good hitter."
Asked what Zimmermann did to settle in after giving up the blast in the first, Williams explained that he didn't think the right-hander really changed anything at all.
"I don't think he did anything different," Williams said. "I think Hunter hit a ball over his head out of the ballpark. I don't know how you do that? It's 95 and it's at at least his eye-level up and away. He's trying to get him to chase a pitch, evidently he did, but, man, he hit it over the fence. And then after that he settled right in. Angel Pagan's double was a little bit off the label in a good spot and then Hunter hit the ball over the fence, but after that it was really good."
Williams wasn't done talking about the home run. He returned to it later on in his post game.
"I don't know if I've ever seen anything that good," he marveled. "That's hard to do.
"And to get on top of it enough to drive it. But he takes the head of the bat to the baseball, and he can hit it anywhere within the ballpark and hit it out of the ballpark over the fence, but I've never seen anything like that."
Zimmermann retired the next nine batters he faced after Pence's first-inning blast before Giants' first baseman Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval singled in back-to-back at bats to start the fourth.
A called strike three on Michael Morse and 6-3 DP from Joe Panik followed the hits, however, and gave the Nats' 28-year-old righty outs from 14 of 16 batters after the first inning home run.
The Giants connected from three more singles while he was on the mound, but never really threatened the rest of the way. Zimmermann's night ended after a 26-pitch eighth pushed him up to 107 pitches.
"He maintained velocity all day," Williams said. "Early on it was a lot of fastballs. Then he worked in breaking balls early in counts to get ahead as we went through the middle innings and that kind of kept his pitch count down too and allowed him to get through the eighth."
"I had a good fastball," Zimmermann told reporters, "and I was locating in and out and the slider was there and I mixed a curveball in second or third time through the lineup.
"I started throwing more curveballs. And the last two innings I mixed in a few changeups and got some ground balls. And overall, [Wilson Ramos] and I were on the same page and our defense played great."
After leaning on his fastball early, he buckled some knees, got backwards Ks and weak grounders with his offspeed and breaking stuff as the game went on.
"Usually I try to get through, the first time through the lineup with [my] fastball and maybe a few sliders," he explained. "And later on in the game when they've seen me once, start mixing in more curveballs. I threw a few curveballs first pitch, throw a curveball in there for a strike and steal a strike when they're looking for a fastball and I was able to do that and we scored some runs early and I was able to settle in and not have the pressure of a one-run game."
The Nationals knocked Tim Lincecum out early with six runs, four of them earned over 2 ⅔ IP.
Giants' reliever Yusmeiro Petit took over after that and retired thirteen straight Nationals before handing the ball to Santiago Casilla, who threw a 1-2-3 eighth.
Matt Thornton came on for the Nats in the ninth and gave up back-to-back singles before settling down and getting a double play and a fly to center to end the game. 6-2 final.
After the outing, Zimmermann was (W, 9-5) with a 2.93 ERA, a 2.80 FIP, 24 walks (1.35 BB/9) and 140 Ks (7.89 K/9) in 26 starts and 159 ⅔ IP.
The Nationals improved to 74-54 on the year.