Jordan Zimmermann entered tonight getting just 3.2 runs of offensive support when he's been in the ballgame this season. That total was the sixth-lowest in the National League.
It got lower tonight.
The Nationals were able to give Zimmermann just one run to work with here in Baltimore, largely due to the dominant effort put up by Orioles starter Jason Hammel. They couldn't get much going against the righty, who worked in the mid-90s with his fastball, showed a hard slider and a tough changeup.
In the end, Hammel got the win and Zimmermann got stuck with another tough-luck loss. He battled through a night when he didn't have his best stuff, and still worked seven innings of two-run ball. It just wasn't enough.
Told after the game that Zimmermann is now 3-6 on the season, manager Davey Johnson replied simply, "He's pitched a heck of a lot better than that. That's for dang sure."
"He's been doing that all year long," Johnson added. "He's pitched great. We just haven't been scoring for him. We hit the ball hard today with runners on, just came up with zilch."
The only run the Nats were able to push across tonight came when Ian Desmond somehow was able to go from first to home on a groundout to third base. Desmond moved to second on the play, took off for third on an aggressive baserunning move and then was able to turn for home when first baseman Mark Reynolds' throw was off target.
That was it for the Nationals, who realize their starter (now the owner of a 2.89 ERA) deserves better.
"I guess we need to score more runs for Zim," Michael Morse said. "He's pitching out of his mind. He's pitching great, and it's tough to see a guy like that go out there and give it all he's got and not get the win."
Nine times this season, Zimmermann has allowed two runs or fewer in a start. He's worked at least six innings in all of his 14 starts this season. Yet he still can't catch a break.
It looked like he might get one in the seventh, when Jesus Flores ripped a ball with two runners on base and two outs. With the runners on the move with the pitch, there's a decent chance that if Flores' ball found the gap, both Desmond and Danny Espinosa would have scored and the Nats would have taken the lead. Instead, J.J. Hardy's leaping grab of Flores' liner ended the threat.
"You know, we're hitting the ball hard and just right at guys," Zimmermann said. "It'll come around. We're struggling a little bit right now hitting, but we'll be all right."
Zimmermann said he's fine after taking a line drive off the bottom of his left foot in the sixth inning. The ball hit the arch of his foot up near his big toe, but he said he'll be OK.
A bunch of the hitters in the Nats' clubhouse feel for Zimmermann the way things have gone for him this season, but the way Desmond sees it, they shouldn't be hanging their heads too much.
"We're in first place, you know what I mean?" Desmond said. "It's not like we're not trying. We're in first place. There's really nobody in here (who) should be down. Nobody should be upset. We're putting in a good effort. Sometimes, somebody's got to lose."
Lately, of the guys in the Nationals' rotation, that guy is Jordan Zimmermann.