The Nationals’ 8-2 loss to the Cubs Saturday was difficult to take on a couple of levels.
Right-hander Stephen Strasburg unraveled following a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman with two outs in the fifth.
It was Zimmerman’s sixth error of the season.
In the seventh, Zimmerman allowed a hard-hit grounder by Alfonso Soriano to get past him at third base into left field. That was Zimmerman’s second error of the game and seventh of the season.
But the first error is the one that will be remembered from this one because immediately after, the Cubs scored four to take control early.
Manager Davey Johnson said Strasburg has to learn to fight through those road blocks.
“It is exacerbating when the pitcher doesn’t pick us up, and then you think about the error,” Johnson said. “It is a team sport. He makes a bad pitch, the guy runs it down. You make a mistake and the pitcher bears down on the next guy.”
Zimmerman admitted it was a bad throw.
“It is frustrating,” Zimmerman said. “Stevie is throwing the ball well. That obviously changed the momentum a little bit. You feel bad. You don’t want that to ever happen, but it did. Unfortunately, it was a big play in the game.”
Zimmerman battled through a sore right shoulder throughout last season. After offseason surgery, he has fought with his timing and arm slot to begin this year. But he said
Saturday’s first error had nothing to do with how his arm feels.
“My arm is fine,” Zimmerman said. “I am just working on coming back and getting back to where I was before all of this happened last year. You will feel good for a week or so at a time. And then you will have a day where you do something like this.”
Zimmerman said if he knew the magical solution to those errant throws, he would take care of it. Now he must keep on making plays and fight through it.
“I wish I knew what to tell you,” Zimmerman said. “I wish I knew why it happens or why it doesn’t happen. Obviously, I haven’t been able to figure that out yet. It is happening. I just have to keep working and keep going.”
Shortstop Ian Desmond knows how difficult it is to make plays from that side of the infield, throwing across the diamond to get the runner out at first base. But Desmond said with any play that doesn’t go your way, the team has to find a way to regroup and get the next out.
“An error, I guess, is the equivalent of a walk,” Desmond said. “You’ve got your horse on the mound and no one should really get a hit off of him. We’ve got to pitch around those things. We’ve obviously got to play better defense. It is give and take. I don’t think Zimmerman is going to have a hard time sleeping tonight. It is not like he isn’t trying out there.”
But the question persists after Saturday’s rout regarding Zimmerman’s arm. Is it a mental or physical issue now?
Zimmerman understands it is something he must continue to work on as the season rolls along. Because even with some promising throws the past week, the problem still lingers.