Jordan Zimmermann didn't think of himself as the kind of pitcher who might one day throw a no-hitter before he did on Sunday afternoon.
"Even when I first got called up I thought there was no way this would ever happen," the 28-year-old Nationals' right-hander told reporters in Washington, D.C.'s Nationals Park after the 1-0 win over the Miami Marlins.
"My career numbers are something like one hit per inning, so I figure if I can make it out of the first a hit's coming in the second, but today was one of those special days."
The Nats' 2007 second-round pick out of Auburndale, Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point thrilled fans in his adopted home with the third no-hitter in D.C. baseball history in the regular season finale, striking out 10 and giving up a walk in the fifth before putting a runner on in seventh with a wild pitch/swinging strike three that got by catcher Wilson Ramos.
Zimmermann stranded Justin Bour after he walked him, Ramos picked Garrett Jones off first after the wild pitch/strike three and Steven Souza made a two-out, no-hitter-saving diving catch in the top of the ninth to rob Christian Yelich of extra bases and end the game.
Seriously, look at @StevenSouzaJR's catch. http://t.co/y1CJxwoveU— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) September 28, 2014
"I've played with him a little bit and rehabbing and so I know him pretty well," Zimmermann said when asked about his history with Souza.
"We've actually been hanging out quite a bit on the bench and during the game and stuff so we can joke around about just about anything."
"He's a great guy and quiet, kind of like myself, and goes about his business and is not over-the-top loud and I'm just happy for him."
"What a perfect end for his season," Nationals' manager Matt Williams said of the no-no in Zimmermann's 32nd start.
Zimmermann was only supposed to throw five or six innings like fellow starter Stephen Strasburg on Saturday, but when he didn't give up a hit...
"We wanted to get him through five or six, but you can't deny an opportunity to have something special like that happen in somebody's life," Williams said.
"So once it got to the sixth inning then he was going until he gave one up."
"After seeing Stephen going 80 pitches and come out I figured I'd be around 80 and come out," Zimmermann said.
"So the best way to stay in there is not give up any hits, I guess."
Williams pulled his everyday players throughout the afternoon and gave fans a chance to give each an ovation as they left, but one replacement after another stepped in and helped keep the no-hitter in tact in spite of some well-struck balls off Marlins' hitters' bats.
"They were all ready today," Zimmermann said, "and we got some of those guys out of there early and brought some of those other guys in and they were playing great all day and it's a complete team win."
Becoming just the third D.C.-based pitcher to toss a no-hitter along with Walter Johnson (1920) and Bobby Burke (1931) was, "awesome," as Zimmermann put it, but he was quick to reiterate that he didn't do it alone.
"As much as this is me throwing a no-hitter," he stressed, "those guys behind me play the defense and I know I had a lot of strikeouts today, but it could easily have had a few hits in there and these guys diving around all over the place for me so it was just as much them."
He was sure to point out the contributions his catcher made too. Like the snap throw to catch Jones offf first and end the seventh.
"That was huge," Zimmermann said. "I believe Reed Johnson was up and he gives me problems, so to get out of that inning and have a fresh inning facing him the next inning was good."
He did shake Ramos off a few times though.
"A few times, actually late in the game I shook him off once and I'm like, 'Are you sure you want to do this right now and make this mistake?' But it worked out and he called a great game."
Asked what he shook off and what he threw instead, Zimmermann said, "I have no clue."
.@MLBNetwork's ballpark cam caught all of Jordan Zimmermann's emotions as the final out transpired: https://t.co/wM6nN9dpYf #JZimm #NoHitter— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 28, 2014
[ed. note - "Two N's MLB Network video title guy."]
• We talked about the regular season finale, Zimmermann's no-hitter was discussed, Span setting the Nats' single season hit record too. Nats Nightly = FBB + FBB's Doghouse + Dave from the DSP: