Zimmermann rocked in his third spring outing (so is Karns)

VIERA, Fla. - As Dan Haren noted the other day, when pitchers look good in spring training outings, they’ll talk about how great they felt. When they get smacked around in spring training outings, they’ll talk about how they were just working on stuff.

Jordan Zimmermann was just working on stuff today.

Zimmermann got smacked around in his three innings of work this afternoon, allowing eight runs on nine hits. He also walked two batters and struck out one.

The third inning was especially tough for Zimmermann; the right-hander allowed four straight hits to start the frame and retired just one of the first seven hitters he saw in the inning.

Zimmermann surrendered six runs and three doubles in the third, and nearly everything was hit hard. Zimmermann’s fastball command looked off, and Cardinals hitters were making him pay.

Even when Zimmermann made a quality pitch, however, he didn’t catch a break. Zimmermann sawed off Cardinals catcher Rob Johnson, who was batting with the bases loaded and one out in the third, breaking Johnson’s bat at the handle, but the ball squirted over the first base bag and Johnson ended up with a two-run double.

Zimmermann’s day is over after he threw 61 pitches (30 of which were in the third inning), 39 for strikes.

The Nationals punched across two runs in the bottom of the third on Bryce Harper’s triple to right, which brought in Wilson Ramos and Chad Tracy.

Ramos slid for the first time in a game this spring just before Harper brought him in. A ball got away from Johnson at the plate, and Ramos, who was on second, took off for third. He slid in safely, and with no signs that he blew out his right knee just 10 months ago.

It’s 8-2 Cardinals as we go to the fourth. Rafael Soriano comes in for the Nats to relieve Zimmermann.

Update: It’s now 15-2 mid-five. This one has gotten out of control.

After Soriano delivered a scoreless fourth inning, Nathan Karns imploded in the fifth, surrendering seven runs (only one of which was earned) on four hits.

Karns gave up two separate run-scoring singles, walked in a run and then served up a grand slam to Shane Robinson, which barely cleared the left-field fence but made it a 15-2 game.

The final line on Karns: 2/3 IP, 7 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K.

Not a great day to be pitching coach Steve McCatty.

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