Nearly unhittable after first, Zimmermann wins 11th
Righty shakes off two-run frame, ties for MLB lead; Rendon stays hot
WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann showed once again that he is the best Nationals pitcher this year, especially at home. Zimmermann won his National League-leading 11th game of the season -- improving to 8-0 at Nationals Park -- as the Nats edged the D-backs, 3-2, on Wednesday night.
Zimmermann got off to a slow start by allowing two runs in the first inning. Aaron Hill scored all the way from first on a double by Paul Goldschmidt. Two batters later, Martin Prado singled to right field, scoring Goldschmidt.
"I just didn't feel very good in the first couple of innings," Zimmermann said. "The command wasn't that good. I threw a good pitch to Goldschmidt, and he just stuck the bat out and got a hit. I just didn't feel that great. I finally felt a little better from the third inning on."
After the first inning, Zimmermann threw 28 pitches and knew he had to get some quick outs. He went on to dominate the D-backs after first, allowing one hit and striking out three over the next six innings.
"We had some hits there, we were able to score a couple of runs and then Zimmermann made a lot of good pitches, he got ahead, threw a lot of strikes, worked fast and we just weren't able to get anything going," Goldschmidt said. "We didn't really necessarily have a bad approach the rest of the game, just he made some good pitches and we weren't able to get anything going.
"He throws four pitches, and probably the biggest thing is, he doesn't make very many mistakes. He keeps the ball down or up when he wants to. He stays away from the middle of the plate, and he's obviously got good stuff."
The last couple of years, it was hard for Zimmermann to get victories. Now he is tied for the Major League lead in victories. It helps that he is getting a lot of run support.
"It means a lot," Zimmermann said. "They have given me great run support all year. I'm pitching pretty well, too. So I'm happy."
Teammate Ryan Zimmerman said he would be shocked if Zimmermann didn't participate in the All-Star Game in New York next month.
"I don't know what everyone else has done, but I've seen every one of his [starts], and it's pretty impressive," Zimmerman said.
The Nationals were able to cut the lead by one in the first inning against left-hander Wade Miley. After reaching base on a single, Anthony Rendon scored all the way from first on a double by Zimmerman.
Three innings later, Tyler Moore displayed the power the Nationals have been looking for from the bench player. On a 3-2 pitch, Moore hit a solo home run over the left-center-field wall to tie the score at 2. It was his third home run of the season.
"I was just glad to help the team, trying to stay small, trying to work some counts. [Miley] left one over the plate and I hit it out," Moore said. "It hasn't been easy to come by. Just to get that out of the way, especially with a win, that's even better. So I just want to get on a roll and just keep going with it."
Washington scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning off Miley. Denard Span reached base on a single and advanced to second on a passed ball by catcher Miguel Montero. After Rendon singled to put runners on first and third, Zimmerman came to the plate and hit into a double play, but Span scored on the play to give the Nationals the one-run lead.
"It gets the run in, but, obviously, not what I wanted to do," Zimmerman said. "But I'll take it."
But the talk on offense after the game was about Rendon, who went 3-for-4 and raised his batting average to .354. He has done most of his damage while hitting second in the batting order. They way he is going, Rendon will be the regular second baseman for years to come.
"He has swung the bat like a veteran," manager Davey Johnson said. "He has hit every pitch that is thrown up there at him. He has a quick bat, he's aggressive. He hits all types of pitches. He is a good looking young hitter. He hits the ball up the middle a lot. He has the good gap power to right-center. You get a guy on second base, he is more than likely to get him over."
After the game, Rendon was at a loss for words, other than to say he has been hitting his entire life and feels comfortable at the plate.
"I try not to take the game out of context," Rendon said. "It's just a game. I'm going to go out there and put the barrel on the ball."
Relievers Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano blanked the D-backs following Zimmermann, with Soriano picking up his 21st save of the season.
With the victory, the Nationals are a game over .500 at 39-38.
"We are playing good ball right now," Zimmermann said. "It would be nice to get a win tomorrow and get on a little bit of a winning streak. Go to New York, have a happy flight and keep winning."