After one of his five innings Tuesday night, Jordan Zimmermann walked into the Nationals dugout and announced for anyone within earshot, “I don’t know where my fastball is going.” The Rockies pulverized fastballs over the plate that were meant to blaze over the outer edges. Zimmermann never felt comfortable.
But Zimmermann took heart in two things. First, the Nationals won despite their all-star laboring through five innings. Second, Zimmermann’s struggles had no relation to the biceps strain he suffered July 11 in Philadelphia. In his return to the mound, Zimmermann attributed his lack of crispness to the 10-day layoff, not to a complication from his strain.
“My command was way off,” Zimmermann said. “I’m hoping it’s because of the days off. I was just missing over the middle. I’d get two strikes, and I’d miss over the middle, and it seemed to be a double or a triple every time. It was a battle tonight. I seemed to have my hands full every inning. I had to work extremely hard. I’m glad we got the win.”
Zimmermann allowed eight hits – including two homers, two doubles and two triples – over five innings. Somehow, he limited the damage to four runs. He threw only 76 pitches, but he would have pitched longer if his spot in the batting hadn’t come up in the top of the sixth with the bases loaded. Nate McLouth pinch hit for him, and his night ended.
While Zimmermann was far from his sharpest, his raw stuff proved he had overcome the biceps strain. He struck out six and fired his fastball 95 mph for much of the night.
“It wasn’t the bicep,” Zimmermann said. “The bicep felt great. I was a little rusty, but I made it through it just fine. I feel I’ll be a lot better next time.”
Even on the night he strained his biceps, Zimmermann expressed confidence it would not become a serious injury. Because of the all-star break, Zimmermann did not need to miss even one start. Still, he was curious how he would respond.
“You never know what it’s going to feel like the next time out,” Zimmermann said. “I got out there, and it felt good warming up in the bullpen. I felt good the whole way through. It’s definitely a good sign.”
Zimmermann did not throw for five days after he hurt his arm, and then he fell into the same routine for the four days leading into any start. He showed rust from the layoff, but not ill effects from his strain.
“He felt great,” Manager Matt Williams said. “That’s encouraging.”
FROM THE POST
Adam LaRoche lifted the Nationals to a 7-4 victory, but Ryan Zimmerman left with a hamstring strain.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Pawtucket 9, Syracuse 3: Emmanuel Burriss went 1 for 4 with a double and a walk. Eury Perez went 2 for 4 with a double. Blake Treinen allowed seven runs in five innings on eight hits and two walks, striking out three.
Harrisburg 4, Bowie 2: Quincy Lattimore went 2 for 4 with a double. Michael Taylor went 1 for 4 with a double and a walk. Brian Dupra allowed two runs in six innings on eight hits and two walks, striking out one.
Winston-Salem 6, Potomac 5: Tony Renda went 2 for 4 with a walk. Oscar Tejada went 3 for 5. Estarlin Martinez went 2 for 4. Dakota Bacus allowed two earned runs in six innings on seven hits and three walks, striking out two.
Hagerstown was off.
Auburn 5, Jamestown 3: Raudy Reed went 2 for 4 with a home run and a walk. Cody Gunter went 1 for 3 with a homer and a walk. Reynaldo Lopez allowed no runs in six innings on three hits and two walks, striking out four.