Jordan Zimmermann is used to flying under the radar, and prefers avoiding the hype that comes with having a name that is easily recognized.
But with every pitch he blasted by the Colorado Rockies’ (37-37) hitters during the Washington Nationals’ (36-36) 5-1 win on Thursday night, he was daring them to forget him.
Zimmermann was an absolute star for the Nationals, throwing a dominant eight innings after an 11-inning game the night before left their bullpen spent. He threw 112 pitches, 85 for strikes, and was pitching as if he was physically incapable of throwing a ball for the first four innings. He allowed six hits and struck out nine, with his lone walk to Josh Rutledge in the eighth inning representing the only mistake that kept him from pitching a shutout.
After Rutledge walked, a throwing error by Anthony Rendon after the next at-bat put him on third base, and he came around to score on a single by DJ LeMahieu. However the run was unearned for Zimmermann, whose ERA dipped to 2.26 after this outing, keeping him among the top ten pitchers with the lowest ERAs in Major League Baseball.
Zimmermann started out his night with a three-pitch strikeout to Tyler Colvin, and switched on cruise control from there. He threw 15 pitches, all of which were strikes in a 1-2-3 first inning, and faced the minimum in four more innings after that.
Ian Desmond started the run support for Zimmermann in the second inning, when he hit his second consecutive home run of his last two plate appearances, following his game-winning grand slam on Wednesday night.
Adam LaRoche was the biggest overall contributor on the offensive end, going 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs in his first three-hit game of the season. He started a rally in the fourth inning with a leadoff single, and showed off his speed (which he is not known for) by scoring from first base after Kurt Suzuki hit a single that somehow eluded the Rockies’ diving shortstop and third baseman before rolling into left field.
LaRoche continued his speed show in the fifth inning when he hit his 12th career triple to bring home Denard Span and Rendon, who had doubled and singled, respectively, to lead off the inning.
Not to be outdone by LaRoche, Steve Lombardozzi, who went 2-for-4, led off the sixth inning with a hustle double that a less aggressive runner might have been content to call a single. He advanced to third on a wild pitch, and then scored on the first sacrifice fly of Zimmermann’s career.
Despite scoring runs across four innings, three of them consecutive, and putting together rallies in a way their stifled offense hasn’t been doing much of lately, the Nationals also struck out 14 times. Jayson Werth led the K parade, striking out four times to earn the infamous Golden Sombrero.
Eleven of the Nationals’ strikeouts came at the hands of 13-year veteran Roy Oswalt, who was strong in his first start of the 2013 season. He threw 101 pitches in five innings, and allowed four earned runs on nine hits, one home run and zero walks.
Tomorrow, one of these teams will slip under .500, as they both currently have evened records. The Nationals will make their best effort at knocking the Rockies under the .500 mark, as they will have yet another opportunity to turn two consecutive wins into a streak, a feat they have not accomplished since the beginning of May.