Hometown kid Zimmermann working hard for O's

May 15th, 2022

DETROIT -- If you've made it through the first seven starts of the season without allowing more than three earned runs in any of them, you’re doing something right.

That's exactly what Orioles starter -- the hard-luck loser in Saturday’s 3-0 shutout loss after allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits while walking only one and striking out two in six-plus innings -- has done.

The Tigers got a fifth-inning home run from catcher Eric Haase and a seventh-inning homer from left fielder Willi Castro, the latter of which chased Zimmermann from the game. The two homers were the only earned runs that Zimmermann surrendered.

“Bruce threw the ball extremely well, went into the seventh inning, two earned runs,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We just didn’t score. Little struggles offensively against pretty much what ended up being a bullpen game for them. Really happy with how he threw.”

Zimmermann, a Maryland native, said he was satisfied with the performance, even though he’d like those home-run pitches back.

“I was pretty happy with the overall outing,” Zimmermann said. “Definitely a little bit up in the zone at times compared to previous outings. I thought at times made good pitches, defense played well behind me with the double plays.

“They jumped on me on a couple of those balls, which when you’re in the zone as much as I am, you kind of have to expect that, especially the third time through the order, so that’s on me to know that and mix a little better. That changeup was a little up in the seventh, but other than that, I was pretty happy with the way I battled.”

Of Zimmermann’s 14 total runs allowed this season, 11 have come in the fifth inning or later.

“I’m still trying to figure that one out,” Zimmermann said. “But that’s the name of the game being a starter in this league. I think I can definitely go three times through the order, I know it’s in there. The seventh is kind of the monkey on my back right now. But I know I’m gonna get it off soon.

“Like I said, it’s bearing down in the sixth, seventh inning, knowing who you’re facing, knowing what you threw them before, what they might be sitting on, how they’re gonna come out, are they gonna be aggressive in the game. If we were down two at the time, they’re still gonna be pretty aggressive at that point in time because they do have a lead, so I have to know that. It’s just bearing down in those last couple [of] innings and really making the stuff crisp and being able to finish out games. That’s something I’m striving for, because that’s the mark of a true starter in this league.”

Zimmermann’s teammates have no complaints with his performance.

“Bruce has been amazing this year,” Trey Mancini said. “I feel like we haven’t given him a lot of run support in his starts. But at the same time, it doesn’t matter to him at all. He goes out there no matter what the score is and he’s going out there and pitching really well. He’s just doing a really, really great job for us. I’m proud of the way that he’s gone about his business this year. It’s been really impressive.”

Hyde agreed that Zimmermann has improved this season.

“I just think he’s got a much better mix this year,” Hyde said. “Better changeup, he’s not walking people. He had one walk on the day. Didn’t have the strikeouts today, but got a lot of weak contact. He’s got a four-pitch mix, and he’s throwing his slider better, his changeup’s improved. He’s doing a great job.”

Zimmermann is confident that the Baltimore bats will come around, and he hopes to continue to do what he’s been doing so far this year.

“That’s the goal, to go out and go six every time and give the team a chance to win,” Zimmermann said. “I think I did a pretty decent job of that today. If I can continue to do that, I think the guys play better behind me knowing that I’m going to go six innings and keep the ballgame in check. It gives [Hyde] a lot of confidence to let me stay in the sixth inning, work through that sixth inning and then go back out for the seventh and continue to build confidence with the coaching staff and the guys behind me.

“It feels good. It stings a little bit, that last one, but overall, I’m feeling really confident with being able to go deep in games and give us a chance to win.”