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Nationals' starter Jordan Zimmermann on two-strike counts, "stupid" pitches

Jordan Zimmermann was hard on himself after a rough outing on Sunday in the series finale with the Chicago Cubs in Washington, D.C. The Nationals' 29-year-old right-hander suffered a loss for the first time in eight starts.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in eight starts, going back to April 18th of this season, 29-year-old Washington Nationals' right-hander Jordan Zimmermann suffered a loss on Sunday in the nation's capital. Zimmermann went just five innings in the finale of the Nats' four-game set with the Chicago Cubs, giving up a season-high ten hits before he was lifted in favor of pinch hitter Clint Robinson.

"I guess they're not swinging and missing when I get two strikes on them... and I'm just not getting the strikeouts, which I'm totally fine with." - Jordan Zimmermann on hits in two-strike counts in recent outings

Over the course of his streak of starts without a loss, Zimmermann posted a 2.00 ERA and a .254/.288/.308 line against, with 10 walks (1.67 BB/9) and 38 Ks (6.33 K/9) in 54 IP, going (4-0) with the Nationals 6-2 in his outings. That streak came to an end, however, in the 6-3 loss to the Cubs.

Zimmermann gave up a run on an RBI single by Starlin Castro in the second, another one in the fourth on a line drive to right by Jonathan Herrera and two on a line drive to right by Chris Coghlan in the top of the fifth.

Seven of the ten hits Zimmermann surrendered came in two strike counts.

On the year, the '07 Nats' second-round pick has a .250/.250/.290 line against in 24 at bats that ended on 0-2 pitches, a .260/.288/.340 line against in 50 at bats that ended on 2-2 pitches, and a .333/.500/.524 line against in 21 at bats in which he's gone to a full count.

Zimmermann talked after his previous start, in which he tossed eight scoreless against the Toronto Blue Jays in a 2-0 win, and gave up three of the six hits he allowed on two-strike pitches, about his decreased strikeout totals thus far in 2015.

"Just wasn't locating," Zimmermann said, "leaving the ball over the middle. My breaking pitches were terrible..." -Jordan Zimmermann on rough start vs Cubs on Sunday

Through 12 starts and 73 ⅔ IP this season, Zimmermann has collected 48 Ks (5.86 K/9), down from 8.20 K/9 in 2014 and a career mark of 7.33 K/9.

"I guess they're not swinging and missing when I get two strikes on them," Zimmermann told reporters.

"Making some pitches and they're grounding out or flying out and I'm just not getting the strikeouts, which I'm totally fine with. It keeps the pitch count down and stay out there longer."

When they're put in play and fall in, or get through, however, it's a different story, as Zimmermann said after the loss to the Cubs.

He was kind of hard on himself after giving up ten hits for just the third time in seven major league seasons.

"Just wasn't locating," Zimmermann said, "leaving the ball over the middle. My breaking pitches were terrible. That's going to happen when you don't have all your pitches and I just wasn't sharp today."

"The fastball, the speed was good," he continued. "I just wasn't locating and I'd get two strikes and make a stupid pitch or something over the middle and they were getting a lot of 0-2 hits today."

"Every inning I had guys on base and I was working out of jams all day. It should have been a lot worse than what it was. I guess I can take that out of it.

"I had 12 baserunners in five innings and they only got four runs, which was halfway decent," Zimmermann said.

"Leadoff guy was on and just making stupid pitches at the wrong time."

The outing left Zimmermann (5-3) on the year with a 3.18 ERA, a 3.11 FIP, 17 walks (2.08 BB/9) and a .276/.320/.343 line against.