CHICAGO - Here's the line that John Lannan put up during his brief debut for Triple-A Syracuse against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this evening:
Two innings, five earned runs, six hits, two walks and one strikeout.
Not a great start to the year, and not exactly the type of performance you want to turn in when you're trying to improve your trade value.
Jordan Zimmermann, however, delivered a fine first outing of 2012, going seven innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts today in the Nationals' 4-3 loss to the Cubs.
Yet again, he just didn't get much help.
In 10 of Zimmermann's 26 games last year, he got two or fewer runs of support. Today, the Nats' offense delivered three runs, but two of them came in the ninth, when the Cubs already held a three-run lead. Zimmermann was left as a tough-luck loser, a role he's unfortunately gotten somewhat used to.
"Jordan was outstanding," manager Davey Johnson said. "I could've gone farther with him. He was still throwing good and had a very low pitch count. Tough loss."
Zimmermann threw first-pitch strikes to a whopping 20 of the 27 hitters that he faced, and needed just 80 pitches to get through his seven innings. Even after getting drilled in the right hamstring by a comebacker off the bat of Starlin Castro in the fourth inning (Zimmermann said he has a bruise but will be fine), the righty pitched effectively.
"I was able to locate the fastball pretty well, and the curveball and slider were both there today," Zimmermann said. "I felt good and felt comfortable throwing anything at any time of the count."
Zimmermann will rack up a bunch of wins this season because he'll pitch well enough to earn them. The Nats hope they can give him a few more victories even when the 25-year-old isn't at his best by putting up a few crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
Regardless, the amount of run support Zimmermann receives isn't going to affect his strategy on the mound.
"It doesn't change my approach," Zimmermann said. "I'm just going to keep throwing strikes and trying to get as many outs as possible."