As off of his game as Jordan Zimmermann was today, the Nationals still held a lead in the eighth inning and were five outs from their third straight win over the Cardinals.
That didn't stop Zimmermann from putting the full blame for today's loss on his own shoulders.
"I just felt like the offense did a great job. You've got to tip your cap to those guys," Zimmermann said. "They give you six runs, and you do all you can to keep the team in the game and you can't hold it down. So this loss is totally my fault."
I wouldn't go that far, considering the Nats held a lead and were five outs from the win over St. Louis. But Zimmermann's point is well-taken.
The righty allowed eight runs over 3 2/3 innings today. He was spotted a 4-0 lead after the first, but the Nats trailed 8-6 by the time the fourth inning was in the books and Zimmermann was out of the game.
"I just left a few balls over the middle and they hit a few home runs, and with the bases loaded and two outs there, I threw a slider (to Matt Carpenter)," Zimmermann said. "I was trying to get a back-foot slider and left it up a little bit and it was a double. That kind of sums up my day."
After a dominant month of July, Zimmermann's numbers have dropped off in his last six starts. He says he doesn't necessarily see any difference in his approach.
"I'm trying to do the same things I've been doing all year," he said. "When it was going good, I felt like I could go out there and throw anything and it would be a strike or a groundball. I'm trying to do the same thing I've been doing all year, and they're just putting the ball in play and hitting the ball harder right now."
As for questions about his arm tiring as we get deep into the season, Zimmermann says he feels fine. His velocity has not dropped, and the movement on his pitches is still good, he says. He just hasn't gotten the results lately.
"This start definitely leaves a sour taste in my mouth," he said. "I definitely want to get back out there."
Drew Storen was asked about Allen Craig stealing second base on him in the ninth, a play which played a key factor in the game when Craig then came around to score on David Freese's RBI single to left.
"It was timed," Storen said. "That's just where it is. I'm just concentrating on trying to get a ground ball there. And he just took the base."
The Cardinals had Storen clocked between 1.93 and 2.0 seconds to the plate, and the Nats had Storen over 2.0 on a couple occasions, according to manager Davey Johnson. An average time to the plate is about 1.3 seconds, and Johnson said that Storen was around 1.5 seconds last year.
"I don't know," Storen said, when asked why his times have gotten slower. "I'm concentrating on throwing good pitches, and it's something I need to work on and just something I guess I need to make an adjustment for next time."
This one might sting a bit for Zimmermann, Storen and Sean Burnett, but after the game, the Nats already had their eyes turned to tomorrow's series finale.
"It's just another game," Jayson Werth said. "The important thing is we just took a game off the calendar. Atlanta lost so nothing changes. Got a chance to win the series tomorrow. We've been playing good ball."