5. Zimmermann vs Atlanta: Over an eight-start stretch between April 24th and June 2nd, Jordan Zimmermann avoided losing an outing, going (4-0) with the Nationals' 6-2 over that undefeated run.
The 29-year-old righty put up a 2.00 ERA, 10 walks (1.67 BB/9), 38 Ks (6.33 K/9) and a .254/.288/.308 line against in 54 IP during that period.
That unbeaten streak ended in a June 7th start against the Chicago Cubs. That was the first of three straight losses for Zimmermann, who put up a 7.63 ERA, four walks (2.35 BB/9) and 15 Ks (8.80 K/9) in 15 ⅓ IP over the losing streak, with a .386/.419/.557 line in those outings.
The last of the three was a seven-inning start against Tampa Bay last week in a 5-0 loss to the Rays in the nation's capital in which he gave up eight hits, two of them home runs, one each by Steven Souza and Rays' catcher Curt Casali, and three earned runs total.
Zimmermann dropped to (5-5) on the year with the loss, which left him with a 3.75 ERA, a 3.20 FIP, 19 walks (2.04 BB/9) and 60 Ks (6.43 K/9) in 84 IP, over which opposing hitters have put up a .287/.331/.373 line.
Both Williams and Zimmermann were pleased with the last outing, however, in spite of the overall results, especially after a rough start in Milwaukee in his previous trip to the mound.
"Back down in the strike zone," Williams said. "He had some low strikes, some swing and misses on his slider, so, as compared to the last time out, yeah, much better."
"Milwaukee was just -- I mean, it was terrible," Zimmermann admitted.
"I was all over the place, couldn't command anything. Tonight was a lot better, slider was really, really good, and fastball command was right where I wanted it."
Tonight he was taking on the Atlanta Braves for the third time this season after going (1-0) with a 4.15 ERA and a .308/.357/.346 line against in 13 IP in the previous two starts.
Yup, this weather will do for Wednesday night baseball. ☀️⚾️ pic.twitter.com/uZyYAKn0Lt— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 24, 2015
Zimmermann's 15th start of the 2015 campaign began with a scoreless 14-pitch first in which he worked around a two-out single by Nick Markakis.
Kelly Johnson took a 3-2 fastball back up the middle for a one-out single in the Braves' second. Andrelton Simmons reached safely on what looked like a potential DP grounder to short when Ian Desmond dropped it on the transfer, E:6, but Eury Perez grounded to second in the next at bat, however, allowing the Nats to turn an inning-ending 4-6-3. 16-pitch frame, 30 total after two.
Cameron Maybin worked the count full before singling through short with two down in the top of the third, but he was caught trying to steal second before Zimmermann delivered a pitch and tagged out at second. 19-pitch frame, 49 total after three.
Got 'em! Great shot of Jordan Zimmermann & Ian Desmond nabbing Cameron Maybin trying to swipe 2B in the third. pic.twitter.com/rP8jSgdiPa— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 25, 2015
Joey Terdoslavich hit a 93 mph 0-1 fastball back up the middle for a two-out single in the top of the fourth, and Kelly Johnson dumped a two-out blooper into right-center to put runners on the corners with two out. Andrelton Simmons stepped in with runners on the corners and fell behind 0-2 before grounding into a force at second. 12-pitch frame, 61 total after four.
Two groundouts and a lineout to a charging and sliding Denard Span in center got Zimmermann through a quick, seven-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth that left him at 68 pitches overall.
Nick Markakis singled to left with one out in the the sixth and took second on a groundout to first by A.J. Pierzynski, but a fly to the track in right off Joey Terdaslovich's bat ended an eight-pitch frame that left Zimmermann at 76 total after six.
Zimmermann retired the Braves in order in a 13-pitch seventh that left him at 89 pitches overall.
Given a 1-0 lead to work with, Zimmermann came back out for the eighth with a quick, 11-pitch, 1-2-3 frame. 100 total.
• Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 8.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 Ks, 100 P, 76 S, 10/2 GO/FO.
4. Miller Time?: The Nationals missed Braves' righty Shelby Miller in each of the first two series between the NL East rivals earlier this season. Tonight's outing was the Nats' first against the former St. Louis Cardinals' starter, who took the mound (5-3) on the year in his first season with Atlanta following this winter's trade, with a 1.99 ERA, a 3.27 FIP, 28 walks (2.79 BB/9), 65 Ks (6.48 K/9) and a stingy .202/.273/.297 line against in 14 starts and 90 ⅓ IP.
While he was still with the Cardinals, Miller, an '09 1st Round pick, taken 19th overall by St. Louis, was (2-0) in four starts, with a 0.73 ERA, four walks (1.50 BB/9) and 11 Ks (4.01 K/9) in 24 ⅔ IP, over which he held Nats' hitters to a combined .170/.291/.205 line.
The Braves' right-hander entered tonight's outing winless in his last six outings at (0-2) with Atlanta 2-4 in his starts, over which he'd posted a 2.97 ERA, 12 walks (2.97 BB/9), 22 Ks (5.45 K/9) and a .270/.331/.369 line against in 36 ⅓ IP.
Miller's start in the second game of three for Atlanta in D.C. began with a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 first. An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 second left him at 20 total after two hitless.
The Nationals' 7-8-9 hitters went down in order too. Miller's 11-pitch third left him at 31 total.
Anthony Rendon broke up Shelby Miller's nascent no-hit bid with a one-out single to right in the Nationals' fourth, but Yunel Escobar grounded to short in the next AB to start an inning-ending 6-4-3. 18-pitch frame, 49 total after four.
A seven-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth left Miller at 56 total after five.
wait how is the Washington/Atlanta game already through five? (checks starting pitchers) nevermind— keithlaw (@keithlaw) June 25, 2015
A 13-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth left Miller at 69.
Denard Span walked to start the Nationals' half of the seventh inning, and took second on a line drive single to left by Anthony Rendon. Yunel Escobar grounded into a force at second base, but avoided the double play by hustling to beat the throw from Jace Peterson to Joey Terdaslovich. Bryce Harper came up with Span 90ft from home and hit a blooper to right that fell in over a diving Peterson for an RBI single and a 1-0 lead. Wilson Ramos K'd looking for out no.2, and Clint Robinson sent a fly to center to end the frame. 17-pitch seventh, 86 total.
• Shelby Miller's Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 86 P, 61 S, 10/1 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: With Washington's win last night in the series opener with Atlanta they improved to 6-1 on the year, 4-0 in the nation's capital and 2-1 in Turner Field, though they still trailed in the overall series 93-97 since 2005.
• The Braves' loss last night in Nationals Park was their fourth consecutive loss and the eighth in Atlanta's last nine in D.C.
• Entering tonight's game, Bryce Harper had reached base in 17 of 19 games in June, with a .373/.462/.716 line on the month.
• Nationals' starters (Joe Ross, Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg), over the last four games, have allowed just one earned run in 28 ⅓ IP (0.32 ERA).
• Braves' second baseman Jace Peterson entered today's game having reached base safely in 19 of his last 23 games, and he was 29 for 90 (.322 AVG) over that stretch after going 0 for 4 with a walk in last night's series opener.
• Shelby Miller allowed two earned runs or less in 12 of 14 starts this season before tonight's outing against the Nats.
• Ian Desmond's error on Andrelton Simmons' grounder in the second was the Nats' shortstop's 16th of 2015, but it didn't cause any damage.
2. Turning Point(s): The moment both pitchers took the mound.
• Jordan Zimmermann getting an inning-ending groundout from Andrelton Simmons with runners on first and third in the 4th.
• Shelby Miller's first walk of the game came back to haunt him. Denard Span took the free pass in the first at bat of the Nats' seventh, took second on a single by Anthony Rendon, third on a groundout by Yunel Escobar and scored on a blooper to right by Bryce Harper that fell in over a diving Jace Peterson. 1-0 Nats.
• Drew Storen gave up back-to-back singles in the first two at bats of the ninth and a sac fly to center by Kelly Johnson tied things up at 1-1. It was just the second blown save of the season by Storen.
1. The Wrap-Up: After Jim Johnson completed a scoreless top of the ninth, Drew Storen came on looking for save no.22 of 2015 and gave up back-to-back singles by Nick Markakis and A.J. Pierzynski. Bryce Harper made an ill-advised throw to third on the second of the two hits and allowed the potential go-ahead run to move into scoring position. Storen walked Joey Terdoslavich to the load the up with no one out, but a sac fly to center brought in the tying run, 1-1.
Braves' right-hander Jason Grilli came out for the bottom of the ninth and gave up a leadoff single to center on the first pitch to Yunel Escobar, but three outs later Escobar was stranded at first and the game was headed to extras.
Eury Perez bunted his way on in the first at bat of the tenth against Nats' right-hander Casey Janssen, and one out later took second on a wild pitch. A swinging bunt by Jace Peterson got Janssen out no.2, and Cameron Maybin sent a fly to Michael Taylor in left for the third out of the frame.
Nick Masset gave up a leadoff double by Michael Taylor in the first at bat of the tenth. Masset walked Danny Espinosa, so the Braves could go to lefty Luis Avilan vs Denard Span.
Span grounded out to move Taylor to third with two down but Tyler Moore grounded out to end the tenth.
Felipe Rivero gave up a two-out double but completed a scoreless frame.
Dana Eveland came on for Atlanta and gave up a one-out double to left-center by Bryce Harper, who went awkwardly into second, but told Matt Williams and trainer Lee Kuntz he was okay to stay in the game.
Eveland walked Wilson Ramos intentionally to get to Clint Robinson, who walked to load the bases for Ian Desmond.
David Aardsma came on to face Desmond and gave up a sac fly on the first pitch.
Nationals now 39-33