Zimmermann and Harper discuss Nats’ 6-1 win

Jordan Zimmermann ruined it. He ruined the Nationals’ shot at 1,458 consecutive shutout innings.

Might as well just cancel the season.

Zimmermann went six innings today, allowing eight hits and one run. He walked two and struck out one, rounding out a line that’s not incredibly impressive by his standards outside of just the one run surrendered, but Zimmermann said he actually felt pretty sharp today.

“I felt good, it was the best I felt in a long time,” Zimmermann said. “It was just one of those days where you get a couple of strikes on a guy and you want to put him away and they battle you for a few balls and then get a hit off of you. It was one of those days where I had to battle and make pitches when I needed a ground ball. ...

“I just gave up way too many two-strike hits today. I dimmern’t know how many there were, but it seemed like every time I got to two strikes, the guy hit a little base hit over the infielder’s head. I gotta learn to put guys away when I have two strikes.”

The lone run the Nationals allowed during this series came when Zimmermann got ambushed by Justin Ruggiano on a first-pitch fastball leading off the second inning. Ruggiano took the pitch over the right-center field fence, ending the Nats’ streak of 19 straight scoreless innings to begin the season.

“He swings first pitch all the time and I figured if I threw a fastball down and away I would get him to roll over or hit a fly ball,” Zimmermann said. “I kind of left it over the middle and he made me pay.”

Outside of that pitch, Zimmermann didn’t allow a single extra-base hit all day. He worked around Giancarlo Stanton the first two times he saw the Marlins slugger today, then got him to fly out to right in the fifth.

“I was just trying to make a quality pitch, something down in the zone,” Zimmermann said. “I just didn’t want to leave it over the middle so I was just trying to be a little extra careful. I missed with a few and walked him the first two times. The last time I wasn’t about to walk him so I went after him.”

The changeup was a hot topic all spring for Zimmermann, as he tried to refine the pitch and get a feel for it to the point he could throw it with confidence in meaningful games. He threw a handful of changeups today, with decent results.

“It felt good,” he said. “I threw a few good ones and I didn’t really throw it all that much, but I threw some good ones and didn’t get any contact on them. But you know, I was down in the zone, and overall it was good.”

Bryce Harper took an elbow to the face when he slid into home in the bottom of the first, but he was in good spirits after the game and said he was OK.

“It feels fine. He got me on the chin and it didn’t really hurt too bad,” Harper said. “I was seeing if it was bleeding or not at the plate.”

After his 2-for-4 effort today, Harper is batting .500 (6-for-12) on the season with two homers and three RBIs.

“It’s a long season,” he said. “You just try and go out there and square things up as much as you can, have good ABs and try to work hard and good things will happen. We got three Ws in the win column, that’s huge for us, and hopefully we can keep going.”

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