No-no hasn't changed Zimmermann's demeanor
Nats in need of Game 2 win to even NLDS at one game apiece
WASHINGTON -- With the exception of the dramatic final play, Jordan Zimmermann hasn't taken the time to watch any of the no-hitter he threw in Sunday's regular-season finale against the Marlins. Messages have inundated Zimmermann's phone, and he made good on his promise to get a gift for left fielder Steven Souza Jr., whose diving grab saved the first no-no in Nationals history.
Otherwise, it's been business as usual for Zimmermann -- who declined to reveal what he gave to Souza -- leading up to his start against the Giants in Saturday's Game 2 of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park (5:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1). It'll be a big one, with the Nats now trailing, 1-0, in the best-of-five series after Friday's 3-2 loss in Game 1.
"Life has been the same way it has always been," Zimmermann said.
Anything more wouldn't fit with Zimmermann's even-keeled demeanor. The Auburndale, Wis., native -- who isn't one for showy displays -- has served as a steady anchor of the Nationals' rotation for the past four seasons.
"I don't think he is any different [since the no-hitter] than he always is," Nats manager Matt Williams said. "He wasn't that different that day.
"He is always going to be the same guy. He will go out there, he will be aggressive, he will challenge the strike zone. Throw the balls in the strike zone, and work quickly. He is not going to change that."
Zimmermann comes into his second career postseason start on a roll that began long before the no-hitter. His final 12 outings all were quality starts, and he posted a 1.87 ERA over that span, with 75 strikeouts and nine walks in 81 2/3 innings.
The 28-year-old finished the season 12th in the Majors with a 2.66 ERA, and seventh with a 2.68 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP). Zimmermann is stingy with walks (1.31 per nine innings, third in MLB) and home runs (0.59 per nine innings, 10th), and he threw the second-highest percentage of first-pitch strikes (70.9).
"The secret to his success is what he showed on the final game of the season," Williams said. "That's balls in the strike zone, pound the zone, work quickly, get us back in the dugout."
This past Sunday was Zimmermann's masterpiece. He got help from his defense but also walked only one, struck out 10 and used 104 pitches.
But just as Zimmermann isn't dwelling on his most recent performance, he also isn't spending time thinking back on his previous playoff start. That came in Game 2 of the 2012 NLDS at St. Louis, with the Cardinals scoring five runs off him in three innings to win, 12-4.
Zimmermann did make a more positive postseason memory in Game 4 of that series, coming out of the bullpen in a 1-1 tie and striking out the side in the seventh inning. After catching Jon Jay looking to cap the frame, he walked off the mound pumping his fist as a raucous Nationals Park crowd exploded.
"It is exciting going out there, for sure," Zimmermann said. "The fans are going crazy and get you all amped up, and it was a fun moment. Hopefully, we have a bunch more of those coming up."