Zimmermann continues dominance in Atlanta
Right-hander goes 7 2/3 shutout innings after scoreless start in previous outing
ATLANTA -- Jordan Zimmermann was back to his Atlanta-stifling ways Tuesday night at Turner Field, just six days after he shut out the Braves over eight innings in D.C.
He came one out shy of shutting the Braves out through eight innings in back-to-back starts, and was forced to settle for 7 2/3 innings of shutout work, while leading the Nationals to a 6-1 victory and their ninth straight win against the Braves.
"I thought he pitched great," said Nationals manager Matt Williams. "[Zimmermann] had a good feel for his curveball tonight, especially against their lefties ... just the ability to throw a breaking ball behind in the count [and] early in the count.
"And the ball was down in the strike zone. If he can do that, he gets a lot of swings and misses down on the breaking ball, which he got tonight."
Zimmermann lowered his ERA to 3.16 on the season, while holding Atlanta to six hits and striking out six.
After the game, Zimmermann credited command of his curveball -- which helped him keep hitters off-balance -- and the safety net of his team's four-run first inning for the success he found on the mound.
"Any time you get runs like that early in the game, [you can] just pound the zone, throw strikes, let them put the ball in play and if they get a few runs we have a big enough lead where I can throw strikes, give up a few hits and still be fine," Zimmerman said.
With this start, Zimmermann has now thrown 16 2/3 consecutive innings (dating back to the sixth inning of his June 17 start against the Rays) without allowing a run. The Braves have been the victims of all but one of those innings.
"His past couple of starts his breaking ball has been really, really good," said first baseman Clint Robinson, who hit his third home run of the season in the first inning. "He's been able to get that in there first pitch, get ahead of the hitters and then put hitters away."
In addition to a sharp curveball, Williams said that Zimmermann's quick arm allows his fastball to surprise hitters in the batter's box.
"The ball plays harder than it really is," Williams said. "At 94 it really plays 97 because it's such a quick arm. The ball really jumps on the hitter. The key for him is strikes. And if he does that, then the fastball surprises the hitters."
Zimmermann had no problems throwing strikes Tuesday night, as 85 of his 109 pitches found the strike zone.
And as for surprising hitters, well, the Braves should know better than anyone by now just what Zimmermann is capable of.