Jordan Zimmermann was a superstar on Friday night. Throwing the second complete game of his season and his first career shutout, he propelled the Washington Nationals to a 1-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
The Nationals’ pitching has been superb in the last two days, allowing only two hits in 18 innings, 17 of which were thrown by Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez. The back-to-back one hitters from Gonzalez and Zimmermann were the first time the Reds have been held to one hit or less in consecutive games since 1900.
Zimmermann cruised through his nine innings, throwing 91 pitches and facing the minimum six times. He gave up just one hit – to Xavier Paul in the third inning – and one walk, with four strikeouts.
Manager Davey Johnson said Zimmermann’s outing was the best he had seen since becoming the Nationals’ manager in 2011, according to MLB.com.
Zimmermann’s impressive performance comes as little surprise, as he has been one of the Nationals’ most successful pitchers from the beginning of the season. His 0.86 WHIP and 2.67 ERA are best and second best among Nats pitchers, and four of five of his pitching appearances have been quality starts.
The strength of the Nationals’ pitching in the last two games showed a glimpse of how they were able to maintain success last year when their offense started out similarly slow. Though Nats hitters only managed to score one run off Homer Bailey – who pitched a similarly strong game, giving up five hits with six strikeouts in seven innings – Zimmermann made sure that was just enough to take the game and at least split the series.
Overall, the offense had six hits, seven strikeouts and left a man on base nine times. The one time they were able to bring him home came in the bottom of the fourth inning after Bryce Harper’s first triple of the year, which Jayson Werth followed with an RBI single.
Adam LaRoche continued to struggle at the plate, going 0-for-3 with a walk on Friday. He hasn’t had a hit in his last 13 at-bats with seven strikeouts. Though his bat showed some life in the series against the Chicago White Sox, LaRoche has always been a slow starter in April. He is batting .217 in the first month of the season through his career. Luckily, there are only a few more days left in April, and LaRoche’s career batting average ticks up to .246 in May.
The Nationals will go for the win of the four-game series on Saturday at 1:05, when Dan Haren looks for a shot at redemption against the Reds.