For one, Zimmermann said he felt "terrible" during his pregame
warmup in the bullpen.
And then there were the numbers.
"Career numbers show I give up around a hit an inning," said
Zimmermann (5-2). "I figured they would get a hit some time."
But Zimmermann had three things going for him Sunday -- a potent
fastball, an early lead that enabled him to alter his approach and
an inoffensive Padres offense.
So Zimmermann retired the first 16 Padres he faced en route to a
two-hit shutout and shortstop Ian Desmond hit his second two-run
homer in as many games as Washington shut out the Padres 6-0.
Zimmermann was working on a perfect game with one out in the sixth
when Padres second baseman Alexi Amarista pulled a soft line drive
over the head of first baseman Adam LaRoche for the Padres' first
Padres left fielder Seth Smith got a lead-off triple in the seventh
on a drive to right that was misplayed by right fielder Jayson
Werth. But Zimmermann retired the next three Padres without Smith
scoring to preserve the shutout.
Zimmermann didn't issue a walk and set a career high with 12
strikeouts while pitching the third, complete-game shutout of his
career. He threw 114 pitches with 83 going for strikes. In addition
to the 12 strikeouts, Zimmermann got eight outs on ground balls, two
on infield flies and five on flies to the outfield.
"He was good," Nationals manager Matt Williams said of Zimmermann.
"We got some runs early (six in the first three innings against
struggling Padres left-hander Eric Stults) and let him settle in. He
used his fastball to get ahead in the count then expanded the plate.
"He was in command all day."
"We just didn't see the ball," Padres manager Bud Black said of
Zimmermann's performance. "He pumped some fastballs early. We
couldn't solve him. We didn't pick it up off him."
"I was throwing strikes," said Zimmermann. "When we got those early
runs, it changed my mentality. I had a good fastball and this is a
big ballpark. I let the defense go to work. I'll take groundouts
over strikeouts. We had a good game plan, the one Tanner (Roark)
used Friday night. Go up and go up and in."
Roark shut out the Padres on three hits and no walks over eight
innings against a Padres team that hit .135 (25-for-185) and scored
only 11 runs during a 2-4 homestand. The two shutouts against the
Nationals raised the Padres' total to 10 this season. The Padres had
only 16 base runners in three games against the Nationals with 11
coming in Saturday night's 4-3, 11-inning win.
The win was Washington's seventh in the last nine games.
[to top of second column]
Offensively, the Nationals made quick work of Stults, who was on
bereavement leave earlier this week to attend his grandmother's
Washington scored one in the first, two in the second and three in
the third as Stults gave up six runs on eight hits in 2 1/2 innings
-- which is the shortest outing of his career. Stults (2-7) has lost
four straight decisions and his earned-run average has climbed to
Nationals center fielder Denard Span opened the game with a double,
stole third and scored on third baseman Kevin Frandsen's grounder to
Desmond's two-run homer in the second, a 398-foot drive that barely
cleared the glove of leaping Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin at
the wall, made it 3-0.
The big hits in the three-run third were a run-scoring single by
first baseman Adam LaRoche and a two-run single by second baseman
Espinosa and Werth both had three hits for the Nationals. Desmond
and third baseman Kevin Frandsen each had two hits in the Nationals'
NOTES: 3B Anthony Rendon is expected to be back in the Nationals
lineup Monday in San Francisco after missing the last two starts in
San Diego with a bruised hand. ... Padres RHP Andrew Cashner "felt
fine" the day after his first start since May 13 and is expected to
start Thursday in Philadelphia unless the Padres elect to give him
an extra day off. ... Padres manager Bud Black said San Diego will
need a fifth starter by next Saturday and it could be Cuban RHP
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.