Catcher Kurt Suzuki loves being a part of a game like Friday night.
He worked with his pitcher, Jordan Zimmermann, as the right-hander allowed a leadoff single by Xavier Paul in the third inning and nothing else in a 1-0 complete-game shutout for the Nationals.
Suzuki had a feeling early on that Zimmermann could do this. It was Zimmermann’s second complete game of the year, matching his effort April 15 at Miami.
“You can kind of tell,” Suzuki said. “It was similar to the game in Miami. That is kind of the feeling I was getting, the way his fastball was jumping out of his hand early in the game. I can kind of feel how Jordan is feeling that day. Sometimes we have to throw more offspeed, sometimes we can go with the fastball. Tonight, his fastball was good. So tonight, we just attacked.”
Suzuki said the key was going after the hitters. The Reds were aggressive and that played into what he and Zimmermann wanted to do.
“I thought he pitched the ball well,” Suzuki said. “He moved his fastball in and out. He elevated nicely, not way up, but he elevated nicely. He was on tonight.”
And Nationals manager Davey Johnson harped on it before Stephen Strasburg got out of his rough first inning against the Cardinals and Gio Gonzalez was able to do it all night against the Reds in game one: first pitch strike.
Zimmerman did that on his first pitch to Shin-Soo Choo.
“Jordan is real consistent because he throws a lot of strikes,” Suzuki said. “He is going to get beat by guys hitting him. That is what you want. Jordan is not the type of pitcher that is going to beat himself. So he is going to attack and attack, that usually leads to good things when you have stuff like that.”
A critical matchup occurred in the eighth. With the Nationals clinging to a 1-0 advantage, Reds manager Dusty Baker went to pinch-hitter Jack Hannahan with a man on first.
“We were trying to just get an out,” Suzuki said. “We weren’t trying to get too cute and strike somebody out and leave something over the plate. We were just sticking to the game plan and his top two pitches and went right in and tried to get him out.”
Friday’s win marked the first time since 1900 the Reds had been held to zero or one hit in two consecutive games, something that was not lost on Suzuki. Holding a team to a pair of hits in 18 innings is just as impressive in 2013.
“For me, I take a lot of pride in that,” the catcher said. “I love getting hits, don’t get me wrong. This is what I really take my pride in, calling a game like this. Getting a pitcher through eight or nine innings, and especially throwing a shutout, and it was 1-0, it was not like it was a blowout. It was tough. This is the type of game I take a lot of pride in and I am sure the pitchers do too.”