It was the situation all pitchers fear: a line drive hurtling right back at them. Detroit’s Jordan Zimmermann could not get out of the way Wednesday, resulting in a frightening scene in Cleveland, but the initial news indicated that the veteran right-hander escaped major injury.
The Tigers announced during their 5-1 loss to the Indians that Zimmermann had suffered a right jaw contusion, but had passed their concussion protocol. He was taken to a hospital for further examinations, including X-rays.
The incident happened in the first inning, with just the second batter Zimmermann faced, Jason Kipnis. On a 2-2 pitch, the Cleveland second baseman drilled the ball low and slightly to the right-middle, exactly where Zimmermann’s pitching motion was taking him.
The ball caromed off Zimmermann’s face and over to Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who picked it up and easily beat Kipnis to the bag for an out that was the least of anyone’s concerns at that moment. A clearly upset Kipnis lingered by first base, crouching and holding his head as Zimmermann remained down for a few moments.
After being attended to by Detroit trainer Doug Teter, Zimmermann sat up and spoke with Tigers Manager Ron Gardenhire, after which he was able to walk off the field under his own power. He was replaced by lefty Daniel Norris, who held the Indians in check until the fourth inning, when he was charged with four earned runs and gave way to three relief pitchers.
Zimmermann, 31, had his jaw broken by a line drive in 2007, while pitching batting practice in college for Wisconsin-Stevens Point. His toughness in returning quickly from that injury impressed the Nationals, who drafted him in the second round that year and with whom he spent his first seven major league seasons before signing a free agent deal with the Tigers in 2015.
“When I knew all my teeth were there and my jaw and stuff wasn’t peeled in like it was in 2007, I knew there was a good chance I’d be fine,” the pitcher said after the game.
Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco, the winning pitcher in Wednesday’s game, was hit in the face with a line drive off the bat of Chicago’s Melky Cabrera in 2015. Carrasco was carted off the field in that incident, but he didn’t sustain any major injuries. The Tigers, and fans of baseball in general, are hoping for a similarly positive result for Zimmermann.
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