In the four days between his previous start and today, Jordan Zimmermann needed to figure out whatever horrible thing he did to scorn the baseball gods and repent. He could have watched film or perfected his mechanics, but what good would that have accomplished? Zimmermann’s pitching is not the problem. The problem is the Nationals’ offense exchanges bats for toothpicks every time he takes the mound.
Tonight, Zimmermann will try to reprise his well-worn role as a tough-luck starter. Zimmermann has twice allowed one run over seven innings, and for that he has an 0-1 record. Since the start of last season, Zimmermann has produced 13 quality starts – at least six innings and no more than three earned runs – for which he has received a loss or a no-decision. In the last nine games Zimmermann has started, the Nationals have scored a total of 24 runs.
The Nationals, at least, are due. They scored only one run in their victory last night, but Gio Gonzalez made sure one run was all they needed. The start provided a perfect example of how a dominant pitching staff can help extend winning streaks and prevent losing streaks.
It is hard to envision the Nationals enduring a four- or five-game losing streak if their starters stay healthy. Even if their offense is down, it would take some doing for Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmermann, Jackson and either Detwiler or Wang to make a complete pass through the rotation and all lose.
“We kind of push each other,” Zimmermann said. “One guy goes out there, and the other guy goes out and tries to do a little better than he does. You definitely don’t want to be the guy to give up a bunch of runs when things are going good the way it is.”
Will the offense, without Michael Morse until midseason, come around? The Nationals have scored 3.83 runs per game this season, which has been more than enough for their rotation. But, as the season moves forward, it may not always be enough.
“I wouldn’t read too much into it,” Jayson Werth said. “We’re 12 games into the season. Wins are wins at this point. We’ll take them how we can get them. I think the offense is there. We’re playing good enough to win, so that’s all that matters.”
It is possible the Nationals could finish Wednesday with the best record in the major leagues. If they win and the Dodgers and Rangers both lose, they’ll end the day as the only team in baseball with 10 wins. They may even start scoring some runs, and if they do, they might as well do it, for once, with Zimmermann on the mound.
FROM THE POST
Gio Gonzalez dominated in the Nationals’ 1-0 victory over the Astros, and Brad Lidge held on for dear life.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Pawtucket 1, Syracuse 0: Bryce Harper went 1 for 4 with a strikeout. Yunesky Maya allowed no runs in 7 1/3 innings on four hits and two walks, striking out three.
Harrisburg 4, Altoona 0: Jeff Mandel allowed no runs in seven innings on four hits and one walk, striking out four. Hector Nelo pitched two shutout innings in relief. Mandel also went 2 for 3 and drove in three runs.
Potomac 5, Frederick 3: Randolph Oduber went 2 for 4 with a double. Michael Taylor went 1 for 3 with a walk and a double. David Freitas went 1 for 4 with a home run. Kyle Winters allowed two runs in six innings on five hits and a walk, striking out six.
Delmarva 6, Hagerstown 2: Alex Meyer allowed three runs in five innings on four hits and one walk, striking out seven. Cole Leonida went 2 for 4.