Jackson shaky in third start, Zimmerman still locked in

VIERA, Fla. - How many bad jokes can I make about Ryan Zimmerman being on fire?

Nobody touch his bat; you might scald your hands. Don’t look directly at him, you might hurt your eyes.

OK, two is enough.

Zimmerman is now hitting a whopping .615 this spring after doubling to right-center in his second at-bat tonight. The Nationals’ third baseman is 8-for-13 in Grapefruit League action, and remarkably, six of his hits are for extra bases. He also has the Nats’ lone RBI of the night, which came on a sacrifice fly in the first inning.

No bad jokes necessary; the numbers speak for themselves.

The numbers speak for themselves on Edwin Jackson’s part, as well, but not in a resoundingly positive way.

Jackson’s night is done after just 3 1/3 innings, with the righty allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts.

By my calculations, Jackson threw 64 pitches, 36 for strikes.

The 28-year-old allowed a two-run homer to Ryan Raburn in the first, but he should’ve been out of the inning a batter prior. With two outs, left fielder Jason Michaels dropped an easy fly ball which extended the inning, and three pitches later, it was 2-0 Tigers.

After a 1-2-3 second inning, Jackson started to weaken in the third, allowing three straight singles - one of which scored a run - before getting a 5-3 double play to end the frame.

Jackson was then knocked out of the game in the fourth, when he allowed back-to-back walks to Jhonny Peralta and Don Kelly to start the inning and then gave up an RBI single to right off the bat of Gerald Laird.

Manager Davey Johnson had hoped to get Jackson 75 pitches today, but he had to pull his starter 11 shy of that mark.

We’re entering the top of the sixth here in Viera, with the Nats trailing Detroit 4-1.

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