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Zimmermann dazzles, but Lee wins

Apr 15, 2011, 3:35 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Cliff Lee carved up the Nationals during a 12-strikeout, complete-game victory.

It’s entirely possible the Nationals won’t get a better pitching performance all season than they got Thursday night from Jordan Zimmermann, who carried a perfect game against the Phillies into the sixth and wound up allowing one earned run without issuing a walk in seven-plus innings.

That Zimmermann still took the loss despite that dominant performance was evidence of two facts: 1) Cliff Lee is really, really good, and 2) The Nationals’ lineup is mired in a serious funk right now.

Zimmermann’s gem earned rave reviews from both clubhouses, but it wasn’t nearly enough to overcome those two troubling facts. The end result: a 4-0 loss to the Phillies, who got a three-hit, 12-strikeout masterpiece from Lee to capture this series.

“I’m a Jordan Zimmermann fan to the end,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “I know he’s got great stuff, the way he goes out and battles. That’s Cliff Lee out there. A lot of pitchers would maybe have shied away. But he kept on going, pitch-for-pitch with him.”
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  1. Anonymous - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:27 AM

    If you looked at the Phils lineup on the scoreboard tonight at Nats' Park, every slot on their batting order was better than his counterpart for the Nats. That is pathetic. If Ryan Zimmerman had played, we'd have still been outgunned at 8 of 9 slots.The Eckstein Worship Cult got a big boost on the post-game 106.7 radio show. Everyone in baseball, we are told, loves his intensity. Yet Thomas Boswell, a guy who knows something about baseball, said we had 6 guys with 100 whiffs last season, and this year, we're likely to reach the historic high of SEVEN guys with 100 whiffs. Coach Eckstein, just keep telling your guys to watch that first strike and give the advantage to the pitcher. It's working!Something inaccurate is being communicated to us. We're being told we had to face these great pitchers early in the season so it's natural our batting averages would be down. But over the last couple of years, it's been shown, statistically, over and over that all pitchers, from the worst to the best, have their lowest ERA games when they face the Nats.I can't take credit for this last observation. Last winter, on this site, a person wrote in and said one reason Werth had such a great statistical year in 2010 was he played Washington 18 times. I thought the commenter was right. And now I challenge a good SABR type to look at Werth's average last year, with all the Nats' games subtracted. It will show he is an average player, nothing more. I like him, but he is average.Finally, it is very hard to admit this, but we would have been better off if we had kept Nyjer Morgan on the team. His OBP was weak compared to leadoffs MLB-wide, but he is Rickey Henderson compared to Desmond. And he hit 60 points above Ankiel too.We were all sold a lot of hype in the off-season.

  2. Big Cat - Apr 15, 2011 at 10:12 AM

    Boy…..who peed in your cereal this morning? No one says the Nats are gonna win the World Series this year. Is Werth a superstar? No. Is he a good solid pro who brings a good work ethic and leadership to the Nats? Yes. Your statement about Morgan makes me laugh. Morgan is an idiot. all he can do is run fast. He had gotten to be a cancer here, much which he brought on himself. Good riddance. Bottom line is that Rizzo has the Nats on the right path. Have a nice day

  3. Sunderland - Apr 15, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    So Jayson Werth also mashed Colorado pitching last year, and Arizona and St Louis and Atlanta, not to mention the Yankees, BoSox and Cleveland. It's not like he built his whole season pounding Nats pitching. His 2009 season was pretty good, right? And in 2009 he performed worse against the Nats than against the rest of the league. The selling of hype left town with Stan Kasten.We are taking steps forward. We are not treading water any longer. Proof is not just at the MLB level but all throughout the system. We actually have half a dozen legit, young MLB prospects in Syracuse. At this time last year, that number sat at zero. Rizzo took over a shambles of an organization and has make some pretty significant progress the past two years. Not hype, reality.

  4. Big Cat - Apr 15, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    I'll tell you what, Halladay and Lee are just frickin lights out. I knew Halladay would get us, but I thought we had a chance against Lee. Wrong. Man, he was just a surgeon out there. He just carved us up. When he brought out the big overhand curve the last time thru the lineup, I just turned it off. Sometimes you gotta give the other guys credit. These two guys right now are probably the best in MLB. And we didn't see Oswalt. Good to see the Phillies leave town

  5. 320R2S15 - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    Amen Big Cat, thank budah for Joe Blanton

  6. dale - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:23 AM

    I agree, Big Cat. That Lee curve ball was like watching a Japanese master swordsman make sushi out of our poor hitters.I was also in awe of our own Zimmermann. He looked as good tonight as any pitcher (including Strassburg) that I have seen in a Nationals' uniform. I can't wait until Hairston returns to his proper place on the bench. Two more weeks of watching him in the lineup is going to be heartrending.

  7. Andrew - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    Jordan Zimmermann looked amazing and it was themost dominating performance of the year by a Nats pitcher.This is what we should consistently see from JZim in the future!

  8. sjm308 - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    I hope (& think) Desmond will continue to improve and will be the player the FO thinks will be a major league SS but how long will they continue to let him lead off? I realize we dont have a legitimate leadoff hitter on our roster but they have to start playing around with this. Espinosa is the logical choice and I am wondering what would be wrong with trying Espinosa, Desmond, Werth etc.Go Nats!!!

  9. s - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    Oh, one more comment on Zimmermann. Just think if he was pitching with a nice 4-0 lead. I was impressed that what he did was done in a very pressurized situation.

  10. 320R2S15 - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    Good first half for JZ, but I thought he lost concentration in the second. Did anyone else notice after the 4th I believe it was, JZ sent em down 123, and as he was walking off, he kinda smirked. I thought that was a problem. You think Cliff or Roy would have done that, I doubt it. JZ is good, and perhaps he will be great, but Charlie is right on about this team, if they learn how to be pros, they might be pretty good in a few seasons.

  11. DL in VA - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    And let's not forget, that masterful performance from Zim-with-two-n's is post-Tommy John. There should be a lot of hope around Washington for an improved Nats team compared to years past, and hope that Strasburg follows Zimmermann's example in a few months. I can't wait for a Strasburg-Zimmermann one-two punch against the Phillies next year.

  12. alexva - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    @320R2S15 – he lost track of the outs, started walking back to the mound after the 3rd out and Desmond caught him. when he came back the next inning all was fine. I'm sorry but no criticism of his performance last night is valid.

  13. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 15, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    Sp far this year the pitching overall has been solid. That is a great sign.However Eckstein's way of attacking good pitchers is a recipe for disaster.

  14. masnstinks - Apr 15, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    I really would have preferred a picture of JZim, Mark. He was awesome and his comeback from surgery deserves to be the focus, not just another drooling, idol worship of a Phillies pitcher. We didn't need a picture of Cliff Lee rubbing our noses in it this morning.

  15. masnstinks - Apr 15, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    And, yes – your article did favor JZimm – it was the big, old picture that was irritating.

  16. SCNatsFan - Apr 15, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    We aren't good enough to beat Lee and Halliday when they are on right now, anyone who thinks we can is sadly mistaken. Can't judge progress of this team by losing to them, although in the losses we did throw up some pretty good pitching. Lets see how we fare against the Brew Crew.

  17. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 15, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    You have to like the direction this organization is heading. Detwiler threw 6 solid innings yesterday, J-Zimm looking like a solid #2 starter, strong bullpen at the ML level with stronger back-ups at the AAA level.Alot of organizations are desperate for bullpen help so getting Coffey and Gaudin some meaningfull and successful outings will help to provide more depth to a minor league system that will receive 3 top prospects in the upcoming draft.All this and a ball club that plays hard.Gotta like it.

  18. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 15, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    Anon 12:27 said "If Ryan Zimmerman had played, we'd have still been outgunned at 8 of 9 slots."Wow, just stop talking already until you have something accurate to say. I would take Espinosa over Valdez, no brainer. I think Werth obviously gets the nod over Ben Francisco and Zimm over Polanco. Even in his slump I would take Morse over Ibanez. Ibanez is old and dropping off fast. Not to mention we will have the advantage at short (Desmond or Espinosa) in the near future as Rollins is not the same player he used to be and looks like the type of player that won't age very well. So to me that looks like we split half the field and aren't "outgunned."

  19. 320R2S15 - Apr 15, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    alex, thanks for the details, he lost track of the outs you say, oh, well that has nothing to do with concentration I guess. I thought he pitched well, really well in fact, but did you hear what Charlie said? he said you need to finish and you can't let up for a second. I just hope the right folks were listening.

  20. A DC Wonk - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    Peyton Dowdy wrote: "Not to mention we will have the advantage at short (Desmond or Espinosa) in the near future as Rollins is not the same player he used to be and looks like the type of player that won't age very well."To expand on that good point: a number of the Phils are getting on in years, and it won't be too long until their production drops off significantly.Also: what would happen if we matched up our bullpen, pitcher-for-pitcher with the Phils'?

  21. Nats Rising - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    Adam LaRoche was outstanding at first base last night. He made several plays that Adam Dunn would not have come close to making.

  22. Tcostant - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    If Desmond can't hit and contunues to be a butcher in the field (their was another play where he dropped the gloved ball and was still able to get the runner, but this guy has issues) than we should have no use for him. I always thought the 2012 splash would be a big time free agent first baseman like Prince Fielder, but I'm starting to think that Jose Reyes is more needed. Desmond you have a few months to prove me wrong.P.S. JZimm was outstanding last night, fun to watch.

  23. P. Cole - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    Most remarkable stat of the night?Cliff Lee's 12K complete game came on only 99 pitches!!!!

  24. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    Looks like Nyjer just can't stop throwing the Nats under the bus, whether he meant to or not. What a douchebag. Here is his latest sound off from the Brewers page."There is just good chemistry here, and everybody gets along" he said. "That's what you need to have a great ballclub and to succeed. Our goal is to reach the playoffs. It starts from having a good skipper. And when you have a good skipper — and he brings his personality into the locker room that's full of energy and has a great atmosphere — that's a piece of the puzzle that people don't realize." If I'm Riggleman and Nyjer is in the game this weekend I'm giving the pitcher the go ahead to throw a pitch high and tight every at bat. Not saying hit him but definitely give him something to think about…

  25. JamesFan - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    I was at the game and Lee was unbelievable. Zmnn was terrific as well and should have won if we had more offense and a little better D. Zmnn is what, 25 and Lee is probably 33? Phils are manned to win this year; Nats are building. I'm ok with where we are. Ramos, Espy are great adds. I'm not yet convinced on Desi. He even bobbled the balls he caught for outs last night.

  26. Feel Wood - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    "Adam LaRoche was outstanding at first base last night. He made several plays that Adam Dunn would not have come close to making."At one point last night LaRoche made a good play, and I turned my head to say to the guy next to me "Adam Dunn wouldn't have made that play." But before I could get the words out of my mouth, the guy in the seat in front of me said to his wife "Adam Dunn wouldn't have made that play." One of these days LaRoche will make a play that causes enough people to say that at the same time that it will sound like a chant in the ballpark. Maybe the scoreboard operator can replace the old "Get 'Er Dunn!!" screen with a screen saying "Adam Dunn wouldn't have made that play."

  27. A DC Wonk - Apr 15, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    Speaking of age — here's a comparison (I ignored outfielders for now)Livo – old ;-) Halladay – 33Lannan – 26 Lee – 32J Zimm – 24 Oswalt – 33Marquis – 32 Hamels – 27Gorzy – 28 Blanton – 30Strasburg – 22Burnett – 28 Herndon – 25Clippard – 26 Baes – 33Storen – 23 Romero – 34Slaten – 31 Contreras – 39Flores – 26 Ruiz – 32Ramos – 23 Schnieder – 35Pudge – oldLaRoche – 31 Howard – 31Espy – 23 Valdez – 32Desmond – 25 Rollins – 32Zimm – 26 Polanco – 35Quite a difference. Of course we don't know how it will work out — but at least the potential is there for having Strassy and JZimm to be #1 and #2 pitchers (and Ramos — or Flores — catching) for a decade — along with Espy and Zimm anchoring the infield, and Bryce on the way in the outfield.Kasten/Bowden were bumblers who thought short term. Rizzo is building a solid foundation for the future.I'm with "JamesFan" who wrote: "Phils are manned to win this year; Nats are building. I'm ok with where we are. Ramos, Espy are great adds."

  28. PAY TO PLAY - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    masnstinks said… And, yes – your article did favor JZimm – it was the big, old picture that was irritating. April 15, 2011 8:18 AM ====================================Agreed! What is up with that?

  29. DFL - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Great offense Rizzo has assembled. Where have all the hitters gone? To Chicago and to Oakland.

  30. N. Cognito - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    The first post in this thread is pathetic.The only thing Boswell knows about baseball is that he likes it.

  31. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    In response to DFL,Yeah cus Willingham's .222/.294/.444 line with 18 strike outs in 55 plate appearances would be saving our line up. Oh and Dunn is hitting a whopping .227/.414/.409 with 1 homer. I know he was out for a week but still, it isn't like the 2 of them are tearing it up…

  32. Grant - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    "That's Cliff Lee out there." — Ian DesmondI sure hope that's not what he's thinking when he steps into the batter's box. I'm fine with it if he's in awe of his competition after the game, so long as he's not in awe of his competition during it.

  33. Steve M. - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    From what I saw in this series was probably the best 3 games of pitching from the Nats -ever-. The starting pitching was stellar and the bullpen backed them up and while the Box Score on the surface doesn't look great, the ERAs will reflect the truth behind it.That is how you can beat ACES as you go toe-to-toe with them and if the defense had played better and a few calls went the Nats way and a couple more clutch hits, it could be the Nats walking away with a sweep.Lets hope Riggleman starts telling his guys how good they are. They played without their best player Ryan Zimmerman, a hobbled Adam LaRoche, and a flu bugged Michael Morse and stood up to the Phillies aces.

  34. Les in NC - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    I was also hoping for a picture of OUR man on the mound.Mark, that was a tad disappointing…Still love what you do for us Nats fans!

  35. Steve M. - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Peyton Dowdy said… Anon 12:27 said "If Ryan Zimmerman had played, we'd have still been outgunned at 8 of 9 slots."Wow, just stop talking already until you have something accurate to say. I would take Espinosa over Valdez, no brainer. I think Werth obviously gets the nod over Ben Francisco and Zimm over Polanco. Even in his slump I would take Morse over Ibanez. Ibanez is old and dropping off fast. Not to mention we will have the advantage at short (Desmond or Espinosa) in the near future as Rollins is not the same player he used to be and looks like the type of player that won't age very well. So to me that looks like we split half the field and aren't "outgunned." April 15, 2011 8:46 AM Peyton, thanks for analyzing that properly for that "know nothing".

  36. erocks33 - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    I still like Desmond and think he can be an important part of this team for years to come, but I think it is time to move him from the leadoff spot. I know some think that moving him after 12 games might mess with his head, but can anyone honestly say that keeping him there where he absolutely looks lost is helping him mentally?The biggest problem I have with him right now is not necessarily about all of the strikeouts, but all of the caught-looking K's. He (and all young hitters) should be taught that once you have 2 strikes on you and a pitch is anywhere near the plate, they should swing. Not to put it into play, but foul it off! Keep fouling them off until the pitcher makes a mistake that you can drive.Since the Nats don't have a true leadoff hitter, the only option right now is Espinosa. Move Desi to 2nd (he did well there last year). This allows Werth a chance to drive in more runs batting third and allows Morse to move down one more slot to take some of the pressure off him as well.2B – EspinosaSS – DesmondRF – Werth1B – LaRocheC – RamosCF – AnkielLF – Morse3B – Hairston/CoraP -

  37. Kevin - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    Lot of good comments, but I'm really having a hard time with the trade of Morgan right now…I really do not like Dezzy at the lead off spot – He's had a great attitude about it so far, but I'd much rather see him at the 2 spot where he hit pretty well last year – as most have pointed out…I know a lot of people here didn't like Morgan, but the guy did play hard and he has shown the ability to be a productive lead off guy – and I don't think Rick is much of a step up defensively other than he has a better arm – Nyjer can cover more…I still think Nyjer deserved another chance – at least up until the all-star break…with that said, I'm trying hard to root for Ankiel because of everything he has gone through, but he's not making it easy…aright I'm ready for the heat

  38. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    We do not have a stereotypical leadoff hitter. I ahve made this point ebfore, but will say it again.What is the roll of the leadoff hitter? Getting on base. Who on the Nats is getting on base the most presently? Ramos.I know it is not traidtional to have a catcher with average speed at lead off, but at this time, he might work. I know I am thinking out of the box, but as this time the team we have is hitting poorly so I am willing to try something different.

  39. JD - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    Manassas, Good for you; I don't know if Ramos will maintain his OBP long term but I like your train of thought.

  40. Richard - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    ditto what Kevin said … And, to get away from the post mortems and FWIW, last night — a night when the Nats are presenting, er, less-than-compelling entertainment, which makes watching any MLB that night kinda not-so-hot — it's great to now have minor league baseball on the PC. We can quickly follow the games of all the Nats affiliates, box scores, etc. Heck, somebody's probably gonna win, right! And the MiLB "broadcasts" on PC/TV are great ($29). Last night one of the games they "telecast" was a (rare) A- game from Lexington. I watched the last couple of innings of the Hagerstown Suns vs. Legends. Okay, the Suns lost 7-0 to split the series and are now 6-2, but I got to see some Nats prospects and especially to see Harper hustle out a double in ninth. Live MiLB is pretty good, too. The Suns home opener is tonight and I plan attending their game on Saturday. On top of seeing Nats prospects and pretty good baseball, minor league ball is pure Americana.

  41. JamesFan - Apr 15, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    The Nats played very tough against the Phillies. Yes, they could have had more offense and they made some mistakes, but they seemed more competitive than the past few years when the pitching never got out of the first inning. Further, I think that outside of the starting pitching, the Phillies have big hole in their lineup. They may make it to the world series this fall, but I don't see them as a team on the ascendency.

  42. Manassas Nats Fan - Apr 15, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    JD,We know the status quo isn't working. Maybe moving Desmond down will work for him too. I don't want to punish someone I want to get production out of everyone.

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