Jul 29, 2014, 10:56 AM EDT
MIAMI — Lost among the furor over the fateful ninth inning of last night’s 7-6 loss to the Marlins was one particularly encouraging development for the Nationals: Jordan Zimmermann looked like Jordan Zimmermann for the first time in weeks.
The right-hander dominated Miami’s lineup, carrying a shutout into the seventh inning and ultimately departing having allowed just two runs on four hits, walking one while striking out six.
Thus allayed any fears that Zimmermann was still out of sorts after his bout with a strained biceps muscle earlier this month, an injury that forced him to skip the All-Star Game and left him rusty in his second-half debut at Colorado last week.
“I was on more normal rest,” said Zimmermann, who went 11 days between his previous starts. “I still had an extra day, but I didn’t have  days off like I did before. I felt good. Hopefully I have a lot more good starts.”
Asked specifically about his arm in the wake of the biceps strain, Zimmermann expressed more confidence.
“Everything was fine,” he said. “Didn’t have any issues. Seems like it’s good.”
Perhaps more than the results Monday night, Zimmermann and the Nationals were most encouraged by his improved fastball command. That had been his undoing July 11 in Philadelphia and then again last week in Colorado, where he gave up four runs and eight hits in only five innings.
Against the Marlins, Zimmermann’s 94-mph heater hit catcher Wilson Ramos’ target with precision.
“Really good tonight,” manager Matt Williams said. “He was down in the zone, great slider tonight. He pitched really well. Much better than his last one. I think his last one was just rust. Tonight, he proved that he’s back on it.”
Zimmermann was well in line to earn his seventh win of the season, his first since June 30, when he handed over the game to the Nationals’ bullpen. That, of course, didn’t exactly go as planned. The right-hander refused to blame Rafael Soriano and Co. for one blown lead.
“No one is perfect,” Zimmermann said. “These guys are going to have bad games. They’ve been picking me up all year. You’re going to have a bad game from time to time. Tonight was just one of them. Sori’s going to be alright. He’ll come back tomorrow and hopefully save the game.”
NLDS: NATIONALS VS. GIANTS
SAT: Game 2 at Washington, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3 at San Francisco, TBA (MLBN)
TUE: Game 4 at San Francisco, TBA (FS1)*
THU: Game 5 at Washington, TBA (FS1)*
ON THE RADIO
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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