Baltimore’s seventh-inning onslaught delivered the Nationals a stinging 9-6 defeat and spoiled Zimmerman’s career night. Zimmerman smashed home runs in his first three at-bats — one to left, one to center and one to right — before he whiffed in the seventh inning. The Orioles scored seven earned runs off Zimmermann, including four in a six-run, seventh-inning bonanza that erased the Nationals’ 6-3 lead.
“It’s tough to have a night like that, and then not be able to celebrate and have fun with it because we lost,” Zimmerman said. “I’ve been swinging the bat better lately. Tonight, everything came together in one game.”
As the four-game, two-city showdown between the regional rivals moved north, the air warmed and the ball jumped. The flight and frequency of batting practice homers served notice that hitting weather had arrived and Camden Yards would play like a band box. It could not predict the eight combined home runs. Or how badly Zimmermann would unravel.
“Those guys give me six runs like that, I got to be able to do a better job,” Zimmermann said. “It’s solely on me, this one. I’ll come back in five days and be ready to go.”
Zimmermann entered with a 1.71 ERA, trying to become the first pitcher to reach nine wins. The Orioles swatted him throughout the night, including Chris Davis’s first homer and a solo shot from Nick Markakis. He left his fastball up, an uncharacteristic mistake, “and they made me pay,” Zimmermann said. Still, he dodged big trouble and entered the seventh with only 71 pitches.
The Orioles ambushed him. Ryan Flaherty singled. Steve Pearce skied a fly ball to left that landed just out of Tyler Moore’s reach, just over the 364-foot mark on the outfield fence. Camden Yards erupted, the score tightened to 6-5 and the Nationals had more to worry about than getting Zimmerman to the plate again.
“I thought it was a routine fly ball,” Zimmermann said. “And then I saw T-Mo drifting to the track. I think some of their numbers a little bit escalated because of the ballpark, but they’re a good hitting ballclub.”
The Orioles kept coming, and the park grew louder. Nate McLouth ripped a single off Zimmermann’s foot. Manny Machado pounded a double to the left field gap, aided by the mistaken angle taken by Moore.