5. Zimmermann loves Petco Park: Jordan Zimmermann threw a total of 58 pitches in the first three innings last time out on the mound against the Atlanta Braves in Nationals Park, but the Washington Nationals' right-hander limited the Nats' NL East rivals to three runs on eight hits in six innings of work overall, in spite of the fact that he walked three batters as well, giving up more than one free pass in a start for just the second time in seven outings this season.
The most batters the 28-year-old walked in one start in 2014 was three, and he did that just once.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after the game, a 5-4 Nats' win, that Zimmermann's command just wasn't there in the 107-pitch start, though he did settle in and hold the Braves scoreless over his final three innings of work.
"Just inconsistency with his command today," Williams said. "Pulling... rotational a little bit, ball sailing up and away from a left-hander. When he does that he has trouble controlling his breaking ball too, which we saw today. He kept us in it, was able to make pitches when he needed to, but pitch count got up there really fast, and we had to get him out of there at a hundred-plus, so it was a grind day for him."
In spite of his inconsistent outings early this season, Zimmermann has managed to avoid taking a loss in his last four starts, over which the Nationals are 3-1, and after the outing against Atlanta he said that he planned on doing what he's always done while he figures things out.
"'I just stay with the same plan I always use,'" Zimmermann told reporters in the nation's capital. "'I've found that if you panic and try changing your approach, it usually backfires on you so I've just been staying the course.'"
Through seven starts before tonight's against the Padres, the 2007 2nd Round pick was (2-2) with a 4.20 ERA, a 3.41 FIP, nine walks (1.99 BB/9) and 24 Ks (5.31 K/9) in 40 ⅔ IP, over which opposing hitters put up a combined .286/.331/.348 line against him.
In seven starts against the Padres before taking the mound, Zimmermann was (2-2) with a 1.90 ERA, four walks (0.76 BB/9), 47 Ks (8.94 K/9) and a .189/.217/.296 line against in 47 ⅓ IP.
In Petco Park, the Auburndale, Wisconsin-born starter was (2-1) in four starts with a 0.60 ERA, one walk (0.30 BB/9) and 34 Ks (10.20 K/9) in 30 IP, over which he held Padres' hitters to a combined .163/.187/.250 line.
Given a 4-0 lead to work with before he took the mound, Zimmermann worked around a one-out single in the first, getting a 6-4-3 DP out of Matt Kemp to end a quick, 11-pitch first.
Derek Norris, of course, singled to center with one out in the Padres' second, improving to 7 for 13 career vs the team that drafted him in the 4th Round of the 2007 Draft, but the Nats' second-round pick from that Draft class stranded the Padres' catcher two outs later. 15-pitch second, 26 total after two.
With a 7-0 lead to work with, Zimmermann retired the side in order in the Padres' third, catching Cory Spangenberg looking with a 93 mph 2-2 fastball to end a 16-pitch frame with his fourth K of the game. 42 total.
It was 8-0 when Zimmermann came out for the bottom of the fourth and walked Matt Kemp with one down. Justin Upton popped to center for out no.2, and Derek Norris went down swinging for out no.3. 20-pitch frame, 62 total.
Yangervis Solarte lined a single to right in the first at bat of the Padres' fifth, taking a hanging curve to the gap. Will Middlebrooks took a first-pitch fastball to center for the second straight hit and Clint Barmes made it three with a bloop single to center. Bases loaded. Jedd Gyorko fell behind 0-2 and K'd swinging chasing a slider off the plate. 6 Ks for Zimmermann. Cory Spangenberg popped to short left on the first pitch he saw for out no.2. Abraham Almonte stepped in next and grounded out to first. Five scoreless. 15-pitch frame, 77 total.
Justin Upton lined a one-out single to center that Denard Span couldn't catch. Two outs later, however, Upton was stranded and Zimmermann was through six scoreless on 91 pitches after a 14-pitch frame.
• Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 91 P, 56 S, 6/3 GO/FO.
4. Odrisamer Despaigne (\oh-DREE-sah-mer deh-SPAWN-yay\): Padres' right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne won each of his first two starts this season, but dropped his first decision of the season last time out in Arizona when the D-Backs pounded out 10 hits and scored eight runs, all earned in five innings pitched over which he threw a total of 100 pitches.
The loss in Chase Field left the La Habana, Cuba-born pitcher (2-1) on the year in three starts and seven outings total, over which the second-year major leaguer had a 5.13 ERA, a 5.30 FIP, seven walks (2.39 BB/9), 11 Ks (3.76 BB/9) and a .220/.284/.430 line against.
In his first major league campaign after signing with the Padres as an amateur free agent in May, 2014, Despaigne was (4-7) in 16 starts and 96 ⅓ IP over which he put up a 3.36 ERA, a 3.74 FIP, 32 walks (2.99 BB/9), 65 Ks (6.07 K/9) and a .237/.308/.330 line against.
Heading into tonight's outing, his first start against the Nationals, Despaigne was (4-1) with a 2.11 ERA, 19 walks (2.50 BB/9), 44 Ks (5.80 K/9) and a .174/.251/.272 line against in 12 games, nine starts and 68 ⅓ IP in Petco Park, and a 1.77 ERA and .177 BAA as a starter in the Padres' home.
Denard Span, Yunel Escobar and Jayson Werth hit back-to-back-to-back singles to start the top of the first inning and put three on in front of Bryce Harper. Despaigne came up and in on Harper with a 1-1 fastball, fell behind 3-1, and gave up a broken-bat single to right that brought Span in, 1-0.
Ryan Zimmerman worked the count full and walked to force in run no.2.
The third run of the game came in on a double play grounder off Wilson Ramos' bat, and Ian Desmond made it 4-0 with another single to center. 41-pitch first for Despaigne.
With two down in the second, Despaigne came way inside on Werth and hit him on the wrist with a 92 mph fastball. Werth went down in a heap, but after a couple minutes took his base. Bryce Harper worked the count full in his two-out at bat, but grounded out to second base to end a 19-pitch second inning that left Despaigne at 60 pitches.
Ryan Zimmerman (nine-game hit streak), Wilson Ramos (17-game hit streak) and Ian Desmond hit back-to-back-to-back singles in the Nationals' third, with Zimmerman scoring on Desmond's to make it 5-0 Nationals.
Danny Espinosa drove in two more with a line drive to right, 7-0, but was thrown out at third for the first out of the frame. Jordan Zimmermann doubled to left with one down, but was stranded two outs late. Despaigne's 28-pitch frame left him at 88 pitches.
• Odrisamer Despaigne's Line: 3.0 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 88 P, 50 S, 5/0 GO/FO.
3. Treinen/Grace: Last night's rain-delayed series opener could have been a real disaster for the Nationals. The fact that Doug Fister went on the DL with forearm tightness today is bad enough, but his two inning outing could have left the Nationals scrambling for relievers if not for the work Blake Treinen and Matt Grace did in relief.
Treinen threw 57 pitches over four innings in which he gave up three hits and a run while striking out six and Grace completed two innings on 31 pitches to get the Nationals through the game.
"We pushed [Treinen] to a place he hasn't been this year," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after the loss.
"He's certainly been there before, but that's just the things you have to do when you're behind that eight ball sometimes.
"I think Blake threw really well. Faced some lefties tonight, was in the zone, which is a good sign for him and went through their lineup fairly well. It's good. He was throwing all of his pitches for strikes."
"Two of the guys we had tonight, we had to push them," Williams continued.
"Grace too, but given that then everybody else is fresh for tomorrow. Which is a good thing for us. So we still have two lefties that are fresh. That will be fresh tomorrow and all of the right-handers with the exception of Blake."
The Nationals also added A.J. Cole to the bullpen after calling him up to take Fister's spot on the 25-Man roster.
Cole came out in the bottom of the seventh inning for his second major league appearance and threw three scoreless frames to save the rest of the bullpen from having to do any work.
2. Turning Point(s): The Nationals came out swinging, and though they didn't hit anything particularly hard in the first, they connected for four straight singles with a broken-bat blooper to right field by Bryce Harper driving in the game's first run, 1-0.
A bases-loaded walk by Ryan Zimmerman made it 2-0. A double play grounder off of Wilson Ramos' bat made it 3-0 and an RBI single by Ian Desmond made it 4-0 after a 41-pitch opening frame by Odrisamer Despaigne.
The Nats rallied again in the third with Zimmerman, Ramos, Desmond and Espinosa connecting for four straight hits with Desmond driving in one and Espinosa two for a 7-0 lead.
Bryce Harper's 13th home run of the game in the fourth made it 8-0 Nationals. Harper's blast was the 13th in 159 plate appearances this season after he hit 13 in 395 PAs in 2014.
1. The Wrap-Up: Shawn Kelley took over on the mound for the Padres in the top of the third, and gave up a one-out home run to right by Bryce Harper on a hanging-a$$ 2-0 slider that the Nats' 22-year-old slugger sent out to right for HR no.13 of 2015. 8-0 Nationals after three and a half.
Kelley threw a scoreless fifth.
Left-hander Frank Garces took over in the top of the sixth. Yunel Escobar and Tyler Moore hit back-to-back one-out singles in front of Harper, who walked to load the bases for Ryan Zimmerman. Sac fly to right, 9-0 Nationals.
Danny Espinosa singled and scored on an RBI single to center by Denard Span to make it 10-0 Nationals in the top of the seventh.
A.J. Cole came on for his second major league appearance in the bottom of the seventh inning and retired the side in order in a 14-pitch frame.
Bryce Harper was 3 for 4 tonight after a one-out single to center in the eighth, but he was doubled up on a grounder to short by Michael Taylor in the next at bat.
Cole was up to 24 pitches and six straight set down after a 1-2-3 eighth and finished them off in the ninth, working around a two-out single by Yangervis Solarte.
Nationals now 20-17