Game #28: Zimmermann Pitches a Gem, Harper Leaves Game
The Nationals right hander Jordan Zimmermann had the game of the season in his last start against the Reds. It would be a tough act to follow against another good lineup in the Atlanta Braves. The Braves sent Paul Maholm to the mound in an effort to establish a 9 game winning streak against the Nationals, but one he allowed one big hit to decide the game.
Jordan Zimmermann came into Thursday nights game to try and get the Nationals back into the win column. In the first inning, Justin Upton hit a single with 2 outs, but that was all the Braves would get in the 1st. Then, in the 3rd, Braves pitcher Paul Maholm hit a double down to right field with 1 out, but that was it for the Braves offense. Jordan Zimmermann was flat out dealing. Mowing down the Braves lineup innings 3-8 without allowing any base runners for the rest of the night. He would finish with a total of 8 strikeouts and allow only 2 hits, no walks and no runs. Zimmermann's record for 2013 is now 5-1.
Maholm's performance is worthy of note also, as he only allowed 2 runs on a mistake pitch to Ian Desmond. In the top of the 4th inning, Bryce Harper lead off with a walk. It didn't take long for Desmond to drive him in on a deep fly ball to left center field. Other than that, the Nationals were set down inning after inning. Maholm ended his night with 8 innings, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, and 4 strikeouts. Zimmermann was just better and the Nationals offense was good enough to beat him.
Rafael Soriano came on in relief of Jordan Zimmermann in the 9th inning and provided the Nationals with a quiet inning on his way to pick up his 8th save. In Soriano's last 7 appearances, he has successfully converted 5 saves and not allowed a single run.
The Nationals luck has been mostly non-existent in 2013, though and they did not leave this one unscathed. Bryce Harper tried to check a swing in the top of the 6th inning and had an oblique tighten up on him. It is believed that a play where Harper crashed into the wall the night prior may have lead to some tenderness in his left side. Harper said after the game that if they let him play tomorrow, he will play. It will be interesting to see what we learn about the slugger in the next 24hrs.
It was a fantastic game again for Zimmermann and it is something the Nationals have been in need of. Soriano also seems to be getting locked in, which is a very good sign for the Nationals. The Nationals and Braves play the final game of the series Thursday at Turner Field, where the Nationals will go for the split.