Jordan Zimmermann was ineffective and left early with an injury, as the Washington Nationals (49-42) fell behind quickly and could not deliver with runners on base and fell listlessly to the Philadelpha Phillies (42-51), 6-2.
Zimmermann (L, 6-5) did not look right from the get-go tonight. He pitched a perfect first, but the Phillies started teeing off on him from there. In the second, he gave up three consecutive hard-hit balls, the third being a two-run double from Domonic Brown that put Philadelpha on top by a pair early.
In the third, Zimmermann got squared up once again, giving up a single and a home run to Jimmy Rollins that doubled the deficit to 4-0. Another single after that gave the Phillies three straight hits for the second straight inning, but Zimmermann regained his form quickly enough to escape without further damage.
In the fourth, the reaper came for the All-Star. He started the inning with a popout, but got a visit from the trainer during the next at-bat and left the game shaking his right hand. No information has yet come out, as the Nationals have a policy of not announcing injury news during games, but a long-term injury would be devastating for the Nats’ playoff hopes. Zimmermann has unquestionably been the team’s best starter so far this year, and the drop-off from him to whatever minor leaguer would take his place would be massive.
UPDATE: the Nationals announced that Zimmermann left the game with a biceps cramp, which should come as a huge relief. Zimmermann himself said he does not consider the injury to be significant, but will undergo a precautionary MRI tomorrow. He will not pitch in the All-Star game.
Zimmermann’s final line was disappointing: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. His replacement, Craig Stammen, started out pitching well. He retired the first six batters he faced, but ended up giving up two runs on four hits, though he also went 3.1 innings.
On offense, the Nats reached base well against A.J. Burnett (W, 6-8), but could not string hits together. They had exactly one baserunner in each of the first seven innings, but no more. The only run they scored during that time was a Bryce Harper solo home run, which is significant in and of itself, given how much Harper has struggled since returning from the disabled list.
The Nats struck again in the eighth, as Ryan Zimmerman doubled with two on and two out to drive in another run and cut the Nats’ deficit to 6-2, but Harper popped out with two runners in scoring position to end the threat. The Nats would go quietly in the ninth to suffer their second straight loss, and third in four games. With Zimmermann’s injury scare (mostly) past, the Nats will turn to Stephen Strasburg to snap their skid.