Skip to content

After crazy homer, Zimmermann churns out a gem

Aug 23, 2014, 9:41 PM EST

USA Today Sports Images USA Today Sports Images

Two batters into Saturday evening’s game, Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals already were trailing the Giants 2-0, and a rain-soaked crowd of 34,137 was murmuring, perhaps worried all the good vibes of the 10-game winning streak that ended Friday night were about to disappear into thin air.

On the mound, though, Zimmermann barely batted an eyelash. The right-hander already is one of the most-composed, least-frazzled pitcher in baseball, but he had even more reason not to worry after watching Hunter Pence somehow tattoo an 0-2, 94-mph that was tracked 15 inches above the top of the strike zone.

“There’s only one guy in the game that’s going to hit that pitch, and that’s him,” Zimmermann said. “I threw it right where I wanted it: 0-2, up by his shoulders. Beats me how he hit it that far.”

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything that good,” manager Matt Williams added. “That’s hard to do. And to get on top of it enough to drive it. … I’ve never seen anything like that.”

The Nationals could laugh about Pence’s homer at night’s end, because it was the lone blip on an otherwise dominant performance by Zimmermann and his teammates during what became a 6-2 victory.

Retiring 23-of-28 San Francisco batters faced after the home run, Zimmermann cruised through yet another impressive outing. Though he owns a pedestrian 4-1 record over his last 11 starts, the Nationals have gone on to win nine of those games, during which time he has posted a 2.91 ERA.

Among the keys to Zimmermann’s success: His steady demeanor and refusal to let one bad development ruin his outing.

“He didn’t get rattled at all (after the homer),” center fielder Denard Span said. “If anything, it seemed like he just focused a little bit more and buckled down and kept them right there. It gave us a chance to win.”

Zimmermann was aided Saturday by some early run support, which came in the form of six runs against a befuddled Tim Lincecum, who unceremoniously was yanked before completing three innings for only the second time in his star-studded career. Span and Jayson Werth drove in runs with base hits up the middle, and Asdrubal Cabrera added a solo homer into the Red Porch in left-center.

“I just think it was a really good approach today: middle of the diamond,” Williams said. “Jayson had a couple of perfect base hits with guys in scoring position. Just the other way, to the right-center field gap, didn’t try to do too much. Just hit the single over there we needed. That’s how you sustain innings. That’s how you put up crooked numbers.”

Zimmermann, meanwhile, prevents the opposition from posting crooked numbers by using his full repertoire of pitches over the course of a game to get batters out even on their third or fourth plate appearance. He relied mostly on his fastball and slider early Saturday, then turned to his curveball and changeup later on, leading to eight strikeouts and a relatively low pitch count of 107 after eight innings.

“Usually I try to get through the lineup the first time with fastballs and maybe a few sliders,” he said. “Later on in the game, when they see me more than once, I start to mix in more curveballs. I was able to do that. We scored some runs early, and I was able to settle in after that and not have the pressure of a 1-run game.”

And the Nationals, despite going stone-cold silent at the plate after Lincecum was pulled, were able to cruise through a comfortable victory, not once feeling like they were in jeopardy of dropping two straight games after winning 10 in a row.

“It would be easy for a team to say, ‘Oh well, here we go,’ after the top of the first,” Williams said. “They didn’t. They answered and drew even after the first, and that says something about those guys. We play hard every game.”

 

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 23, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    • natsfan1a - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:41 PM

      Maybe Pence should be called The Freak instead of Timmy.

    • therealjohnc - Aug 24, 2014 at 12:00 AM

      Wow is right – that’s just crazy.

  2. RickH - Aug 23, 2014 at 10:01 PM

    Great game. Fun to be there. Let’s win the series tomorrow!

  3. TimDz - Aug 23, 2014 at 10:18 PM

    Jordan needs to teach that unflappable thing to SS…..Not sure how Stras would have handled that homerun….

    • David Proctor - Aug 23, 2014 at 10:30 PM

      In his very last start, Strasburg gave up a home run to Peralta in the first inning and then pitched 8 innings without giving up more. Almost exactly the same as today

      • Hiram Hover - Aug 23, 2014 at 10:53 PM

        Exactly right.

        I have to say, tho, that I was struck by the difference in how Mark wrote up the 2 games. This one notes JZimm’s “steady demeanor” after the homer and follows it up with a quote along the same lines from Span (or was that Denard talking?).

        His write up earlier in the week said lots of nice things about Stras (I went back and read it again) but nothing about Stras being unflappable, steady, unshaken, etc. after the 1st inning homer in that game.

      • adcwonk - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:57 AM

        +7

    • wearenationals - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:57 AM

      I was also thinking Mark Z was taking a shot at Stras when he wrote:
      “Among the keys to Zimmermann’s success: His steady demeanor and refusal to let one bad development ruin his outing.” ZING!

  4. ArVAFan - Aug 23, 2014 at 10:28 PM

    Greetings to all the Insiders who stopped by Sec. 313. Plenty to time to chat during the rain delay.

    And thanks to the other Birthday Girl in 313 who shared her cupcakes with me!

    • natsfan1a - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:39 PM

      It was nice to chat with you and Candide at the picnic tables before the game. Sorry that I missed meeting sjm.

      Went out to dinner after and just now got home. I felt bad for Timmy but, as my husband pointed out, somebody has to lose. hmmm…good point. And sometimes it rains. Think about that for a while…

      • sjm308 - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:51 PM

        one of these days 1a, one of these days

    • dryw4nats - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:14 AM

      Good to know who the cupcake went to! :-) I was the baker, not the birthday girl, but glad to share some birthday fun with you, either way! Wasn’t it nice for the Nats to win for the two of you?? Let’s do it again today!

  5. unkyd59 - Aug 23, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    Giolito shut down, after 98 innings, per the protocol. Nice when things go according to schedule. They won’t let him hootenanny than 140, next year, will they?

    • Smyrcok - Aug 23, 2014 at 10:46 PM

      I’m not sure of hootenanny has another definition I’m not familiar with, or if you just fell victim to one of the more hilarious cases of autocorrect I’ve ever seen.

      • unkyd59 - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:10 PM

        Hootenanny?! I think I said “go many” more… Yep, that’s right up there with “hacking through the gorse”, for sure…lol!

      • unkyd59 - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:11 PM

        …and while Mikey is in town, even!

      • natsfan1a - Aug 24, 2014 at 6:53 AM

        That’s perfect! Hope that SS has a hootenanny today. :-)

    • dcwx61 - Aug 24, 2014 at 8:33 AM

      I suspect they’ll let him have up to 160 hootenannys

  6. Joe Seamhead - Aug 23, 2014 at 10:52 PM

    Is the Braves/Reds game on TV?

  7. David Proctor - Aug 23, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    The Braves and Cubs reportedly discussed a BJ Upton for Edwin Jackson trade. Bad contract for bad contract

    • Section 222 - Aug 24, 2014 at 1:28 AM

      That’s funny. Maybe they should each keep paying the contract they already have, and hope that a change of scenery is good for both of them.

      • nats128 - Aug 24, 2014 at 7:46 AM

        There was a post on this back when the news broke. The problem with the trade proposal was the Cubs wanted Mike Minor and then the Barves wanted a top prospect and it got too complicated.

      • Section 222 - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:22 AM

        Too bad. The amusement value of that trade would have been awesome.

  8. Joe Seamhead - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    Leake just issued a walk to load the bases. 2outs. 1-0 Reds

    • letswin3 - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:46 PM

      Now top of the 9th …Reds still lead 1 -0

      • letswin3 - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:47 PM

        Chapman vs Freeman

  9. David Proctor - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:46 PM

    Wow, what is Bryan Price doing? Aroldis Chapman missed 4 days with a sore shoulder. He returned Thursday and threw 15 pitches. Then yesterday, he pitched 2 innings and threw a career-high 37 pitches. And now they’re putting him back out there again.

    MW is far from perfect, but you appreciate him a lot more when you see what some of these other managers do.

    • David Proctor - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:49 PM

      Still throwing 101 though.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:51 PM

        Just incredible. I figured he would sit out tonight. He looks loose.

      • letswin3 - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:52 PM

        He K’d both Freeman and Justin….101 and 102 stuff

      • letswin3 - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:55 PM

        And Chris Johnson K’s to end the game.

  10. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:54 PM

    Thanks very much Reds. Nats back up to 7 game lead. adcwonk can revise his ELIM#

    • adcwonk - Aug 24, 2014 at 10:04 AM

      Thanks for the shout out. (Slow on the uptake because I’m on the road. Actually, I’m on a bus somewhere between DC and NY <– the wonders of wifi!)

      Not only is the Nats magic number down to 27, but it’s the smallest magic number in all of MLB right now.

      Just sayin’ ;-)

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 24, 2014 at 10:08 AM

        Enjoy, I’m hoping for a sub 20 ELIM# on Aug 31. With another Nats winning streak and a few more Barves losses, it’s all possible.

      • adcwonk - Aug 24, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        I’m hoping for a sub 20 ELIM# on Aug 31.

        Or, if not, at least by Labor Day ;-)

  11. David Proctor - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:55 PM

    Chapman dominated, but at what long-term cost? He had no business pitching IMO.

    In any event, lead back up to 7 and magic number down to 27

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 24, 2014 at 12:03 AM

      Crazy. I think when Stammen or Det pitch 30+ they sit for 2 days but at least 1.

    • adcwonk - Aug 24, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      That’s really astounding. That’s a panic move, if you ask me.

  12. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:57 PM

    I admit… I was cussing the Reds manager out something serious for using Chapman again tonight… But I’m glad he was able to get the S….

    Back up to 7… Love it.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:58 PM

      Me too. Me too. They will ruin him by doing this. That’s a shame but just glad Barves lost. That K of Freeman and Upton were nice.

  13. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 24, 2014 at 12:02 AM

    “Matt Mobley ‏@mattmobley 4m
    What team sits their lead off hitter when they have been on a hot streak since he moved to lead off?!Good job Fredi @JasonHeyward #firefredi”

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 24, 2014 at 12:03 AM

      The Tweets are hilarious. I just did a Jayson Heyward search.

  14. nats128 - Aug 24, 2014 at 7:48 AM

    Nice to wake up to a Barves loss. The Reds cant buy hits these days but found a way to win 1-0.

    Why didnt Jason Heyward play.

    • NatsLady - Aug 24, 2014 at 8:01 AM

      Even if he didn’t play, why didn’t he pinch hit? They put in Ryan Doumit as pinch hitter in the 8th. This Ryan Doumit .197 .238 .287

      • rayvil01 - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:50 AM

        Fredi does some curious stuff. Starting Gattis in Left Field for the playoffs last year was one of my favorite Fredi moves ever. Just brain dead.

        I hope they don’t fire him. Him being there helps us.

  15. ArVAFan - Aug 24, 2014 at 8:03 AM

    So, when should Mark put up the Magic Number? September 1? When it gets down to 20? RIGHT NOW?

    Looking at the schedule, if I’m doing the math right, it appears possible that we might be in a position to clinch the division in the second week of September, at home, . . . against the Braves. If things work out like that, and this is by no means a prediction, that would be a celebration on South Capitol Street that would make the 2012 clinching look like the 2012 Wild-Card-clinching night.

    If I’ve done my sums wrong, I’m sure another NI’er will correct me, and I’ll go back to doing taxes.

    • dcwx61 - Aug 24, 2014 at 8:31 AM

      I would recalculate after the road trip.

  16. thelatencn - Aug 24, 2014 at 8:16 AM

    Another two hit game for Denard Span last night. The man deserves more attention. I propose we dub him Denard “Attention” Span.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 24, 2014 at 8:26 AM

      I’ve said a few times this year that people that have trashed him suffered from Attention Span Disorder.

      • adcwonk - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:59 AM

        Well put, both of you!

    • dcwx61 - Aug 24, 2014 at 8:29 AM

      team MVP

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:25 AM

        I really think Denard deserves to get the Gold Glove this year. Somebody needs to really start promoting that concept.

  17. Joe Seamhead - Aug 24, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    So now Joe Theismann says Cousins should be the starter on the local football team, not the savior RG111. Great, so that will be about all we will hear about on the National’s “flagship” station for the next week. Why can’t this town have a station that truly dedicates more time to baseball, with freaking baseball knowledgable sportscasters? It was so pleasant to hear the interview with Jon Miller yesterday before the rain delayed start. Oh! What would I give for a Red Barber type guy?

    • dcwx61 - Aug 24, 2014 at 8:30 AM

      +1

    • dcwx61 - Aug 24, 2014 at 8:36 AM

      How can the baseball pennant races trump football pre season games. This is the only time of the year the Redskins have hope

      • ArVAFan - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:30 AM

        Front page of “dead tree” edition of the Post has Nats story (below the fold, but not just the quick note at the top of the page). Football in the sports section . . . as it should be this time of year.

    • Section 222 - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:10 AM

      Best solution is to not listen to that “flagship station” except when the Nats are playing, and maybe after the games until you get sick of Phil Wood’s schtick. What a joke. Whenever they are talking Nats I get frustrated anyway.

      Thank goodness for the Internet. Plenty of intelligent baseball commentary there.

      • stoatva - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:26 AM

        Considering the caliber of commentary on sports talk radio, Nats fans should probably be grateful to be ignored.

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:31 AM

        Agreed that there is good stuff on the net, but ball fans in this town deserve a decent home station with Nationals dedicated programing. Maybe the Lerners should start their own Nationals network.

        If I were a rich man…

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:33 AM

        Also, I very rarely listen to that “flagship station” other than when the Nats are playing, but I would if there was anything worth listening to.

  18. Section 222 - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Great idea Joe. Their first hire could be MarkZ. Oh wait, then he’d disappear like Amanda Comak has. That was a loss. I hope she’s enjoying a hopefully much bigger salary than she had at the Wash Times.

    • David Proctor - Aug 24, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      She still writes some interesting feature stories for the team

      • Section 222 - Aug 24, 2014 at 12:02 PM

        Yeah. I’ve seen them. Meh. Compared to how much she was part of the daily conversation about the team as a beat writer, seems like a big step down, like I said.

    • 6ID20 - Aug 24, 2014 at 12:33 PM

      There are probably homeless people who have higher salaries than what they pay at the Moonie Paper.

  19. Theophilus T.S. - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    I’m sorry I missed the Miller interview. I remember a Spring Training game he worked with Joe Angell and did a whole inning of PBP in Spanish. A riot.

  20. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    “thelatencn on August 24, 2014 at 8:16 am
    Another two hit game for Denard Span last night. The man deserves more attention. I propose we dub him Denard “Attention” Span.”

    Span’s defense has gone to a new level. I still have Rendon, Span, Werth, Clip, Fister, JZim, Desi, ALR, Ramos, Sori, Bryce as the top players on this team.

    Rendon is tops in runs scored and late inning offense and that makes The Texas Yawner my #1 and Spam and Rendon are now the best 1-2 punch in the Majors.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:52 AM

      Just as in 2012, I don’t see a MVP on this team.this again is the epitome of a team. One could make a MVP argument for several guys on this team, but Though I see several having really good seasons, no one player stands out to me as being the most valuable.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:58 AM

        Joe, Correctomundo. Just a bunch of guys who pick each other up. No superstars. Once Bryce realizes he doesnt have to carry this team he will help more by his own addition by subtraction on bonehead plays.

        What’s better than the streak Desi is on with taking walks? Get on base in front of Bryce and the Buffalo.

        This team is now stacked 1-8 and everyone is contributing. No player has to feel like they have to singularly carry the team on their back.

      • Section 222 - Aug 24, 2014 at 10:31 AM

        Ok fine. But Span is still the MVP this year. Setting the table at the top, playing great D, clutch hits (and that steal). Either him or Rendon — the guy you most want up with a RISP late in the game.

  21. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 24, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2014/08/24/nationals-prospect-reynaldo-lopez-is-a-name-know/

    A must read. Great quotes especially from Bob Boone on pitchers height.

    • veejh - Aug 24, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      Gotta hand it to the scouting team Rizzo has put together. Finding diamonds in the rough, and having the vision to see the potential well before anyone else does. Love it.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 24, 2014 at 10:42 AM

        Yep and beyond that is the best pitcher development group in the Minors.

        If Gio came through the Nats Minor League system he would be even better.

        Mechanics and repertoire are essential parts of the system.

  22. NatsLady - Aug 24, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Game post is up. I waited and waited for Baseball Ref to update their stats, but I am GOING TO TODAY’S GAME and couldn’t wait any more. Weather looks outstanding! So just add one to all JZimm’s stats…

    • NatsLady - Aug 24, 2014 at 10:54 AM

      Oh, and I’ll be at the Sec 312 picnic tables if I get there in time. If you don’t know what I look like, well, you know what a walker looks like, right?

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 24, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        We usually sit in sec 311 but today’s game is not on our plan and my grandsons gave us two free tix in the outfield for today. Taking the Metro for the first time in a couple of years. Probably won’t walk all the way to the tables.

      • sjm308 - Aug 24, 2014 at 11:51 AM

        Seam:

        good luck with the sun!!
        We made a mistake in our 2nd year at Nationals Park and moved out to Left Field
        Just rough on day games, especially those hot humid ones and I honestly had a hard time tracking the ball.
        So glad I talked my group back into 308 after just one year.

        Have Fun

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 24, 2014 at 1:03 PM

        308, we’re in our seats in 142. We’re actually in the shade, but you can’t see RF and CF plays against the wall. I’m always happy to be with Mrs. Seamhead at the park though.

Archives

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

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.

Follow us on Twitter