After a superb run which saw Washington win 8 of 10 games, catapulting them to first place in the NL East, the Nationals lost their second contest in as many nights as they fell 1-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals Friday evening.
It was a nail-biter of a loss, a true pitchers duel that saw both sides combine for just five hits, and one run. Both Jordan Zimmermann for Washington, and Lance Lynn for St. Louis were spectacular, tallying 13 strikeouts and just one walk in 16 innings of work. Unfortunately for the Nats, one bad pitch to Matt Adams in the second inning would be all it would take as the solo home-run proved to be the difference in the game.
Great teams minimize their own mistakes, while the best teams capitalize on the mistakes of their opponents when the opportunity arises. Unfortunately for Washington, St. Louis capitalized on the one mistake Jordan Zimmermann made, where the Nats were unable to capitalize on two errors by the Cardinals’ defense. Those errors represented significant opportunities, as Washington only mustered two base-runners on their own, with just two base hits and no walks earned.
Zimmermann, to his credit, posted his third consecutive excellent outing. The right-hander pitched a complete game, allowing just three hits, giving up one walk, and striking out five. One area that he excelled, yet again, was with his efficiency on the mound. He threw just 76 pitches over eight innings of work, 57 for strikes.
In Zimmermann’s starts in the month of June Washington has had to use just one inning from the bullpen, as he has pitched 25 of 26 possible innings in three starts. Over that period he has struck out 21 batters, walked two, allowed 10 hits, and has given up just ONE earned run.
Washington is now at an interesting crossroad. They have for the first time found a way to gain momentum, putting together a significant string of wins while on the road. Three of those wins came against the first place San Francisco Giants, which gave true legitimacy for their June surge. Now it seems as if the momentum they gained may be cooling. It will be essential for them to answer back with a great game from Stephen Strasburg on the hill Saturday, but even more important for their lineup to wakeup and start putting runs on the board the way they did at the start of this month.