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Nationals tie Cardinals, 1-1: Jordan Zimmermann impresses, talks contract

After six innings on the mound against the St. Louis Cardinals this afternoon in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium, Jordan Zimmermann told reporters it's "not looking good" when it comes to a potential extension before Opening Day.

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

In four Spring starts before he took the mound this afternoon against the St. Louis Cardinals in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium, Jordan Zimmermann was (2-0) with a 1.32 ERA and 11 Ks in 13 ⅔ IP.

Zimmermann, 28, finished his sixth major league campaign in 2014 at a career-high +5.3 fWAR with a 2.66 ERA, 2.68 FIP, 29 walks (1.31 BB/9) and 182 Ks (8.20 K/9) in 32 starts and 199 ⅔ IP.

He's entering what could be his final season in Washington, D.C., however, as he and the Nats have thus far been unable to agree on what both sides consider a fair extension that would keep him in the nation's capital and the Nationals' rotation beyond 2015.

"We both have tried several times and we haven't come up with a deal yet, I'm not saying that it won't happen..." - Mike Rizzo on extension talks with Zimmermann and Desmond

Nats' GM Mike Rizzo was asked this week, in an MLB Network Radio interview with Jim Bowden and Casey Stern, if Zimmermann and shortstop Ian Desmond, who is also set to hit free agency if not extended between now and next winter, were both heading into what will be their final seasons with the Nationals?

"I don't know," Rizzo said. "We're always in conversations. Desi and I and Zim and I have a great relationship, we talk on a daily basis, but sometimes it comes down to a business decision and it's not for a lack of both sides trying.

"We both have tried several times and we haven't come up with a deal yet, I'm not saying that it won't happen, but it's something that we haven't taken our minds off it, but it's something that is secondary both in the players' minds and the front office's minds, that we're concentrating on playing baseball and Opening Day and so are they."

Listen to Rizzo's MLB Network Radio interview below:

Zimmermann is scheduled start the second game of the season on April 8th after Max Scherzer starts on Opening Day in D.C. on April 6th.

Zimmermann made his next-to-last start of the Spring this afternoon, issuing a leadoff walk to St. Louis Cardinals' infielder Matt Carpenter in the top of the first inning.

Jon Jay grounded into a 6-4-3 DP in the next at bat, however, and a groundout to a diving Ryan Zimmerman at first ended a relatively quick opening frame.

Zimmermann worked around a one-out single in the St. Louis' second, recording Ks no.13 and 14 in 15 ⅔ along the way, then erased a leadoff runner in the third when he caught a popped up bunt off Cards' starter Carlos Martinez's bat and doubled Pete "[Expletive deleted]" Kozma off first after Kozma's line drive single to left.

Zimmermann put Matt Carpenter on with a two-out walk, but a Jon Jay groundout ended the third scoreless frame by the Nats' starter.

Randal Grichuk singled to start the Cardinals' fourth, with the Nationals up 1-0 (RBI double by Jose Lobaton) and Matt Adams doubled in the next at bat, putting runners on second and third with no one out.

Kolten Wong's one-out groundout brought Grichuk in from third to tie the game at 1-1 after three and a half.

Zimmermann added a HBP to his line when he plunked Matt Carpenter with two down in the fifth, but a fly to left by Jon Jay ended the frame.

The Cardinals went down in order in Zimmermann's final inning of work on the mound in the sixth.

Zimmermann's Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 4 Ks, 76 P, 49 S, 6/3 GO/FO.

#LOBATRON: Jose Lobaton doubled in each of his first two at bats this afternoon, (5 for 28, 4 doubles), driving Dan Uggla in with a two-base hit in the second, then connecting for his second two-bagger with two down in the home-half of the fourth. Lobaton did it again in the seventh (6 for 29, 5 doubles), connecting for his third two-base hit of the game and his fifth of the Spring.

Not Zim?!?!?!: Ryan Zimmerman was forced to reach up for a leaping catch on a high throw to first from third by Ian Stewart in the second inning, and Zimmerman made a diving play on a grounder in the Cardinals' first, but there was no obvious injury which forced him from the game, so it surprised everyone following along (including Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler on the radio and all the beat writers at the game on Twitter) when Zimmerman was replaced at first by Mike Carp after just two innings and one at bat...

Storen's interesting inning: Drew Storen returned to Grapefruit League action for his second outing of the Spring and his first since undergoing surgery to remove the hook of the hamate bone from this left (non-throwing hand) back on March 13th. The Nats' 27-year-old closer gave up back-to-back one-out singles by Tony Cruz and Pete Kozma (who stole second) in the Cardinals' seventh, and a base-loading walk to Xavier Scruggs, but a 6-4-3 DP helped Storen out of the jam.

Blake Treinen retired the Cardinals in order in the top of the eighth. Rich Hill took the mound for the Nationals with the game still tied at 1-1 in the ninth.