In his eight innings of work tonight, Jordan Zimmermann got into very little trouble.
He allowed just two runners to get into scoring positing through the seventh and set down 16 straight hitters at one point.
Zimmermann was cruising, pounding the strike zone and setting down the Rockies with relative ease.
In the eighth, the right-hander finally needed to work his way out of a jam, albeit one that was partially created by some shaky defense.
After Zimmermann walked Josh Rutledge with one out in the eighth - his first and only walk of the night - Anthony Rendon tried to force a throw to second on a slow groundball and get the lead runner, but his throw got away from Ian Desmond. That put two runners on with one out, and DJ LeMahieu then followed with an RBI single to center.
As Rendon will learn, you don’t always need to get the out at second on a play like that. You’re up by five in the eighth. Take the easy out.
Carlos Gonzalez, he of the 21 home runs and 57 RBIs this season, then came to the plate, and Michael Cuddyer stood in the on-deck circle representing the potential tying run.
But despite a pitch count that topped the triple-digit mark, Zimmermann was able to bear down against some big-time hitters. His seventh pitch to Gonzalez was an 88 mph changeup that got the power-hitting left fielder flailing for strike three, and then Zimmermann fired four straight heaters to Cuddyer - the last of which came in at 95 mph under the hands - to punch him out.
That ended the threat, and ended a tremendous outing for Zimmermann.
He doesn’t use the changeup often, but it’s quite a weapon for him. So is that mid-to-upper 90s gas.
Zimmermann’s final line: 8 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks. He threw 112 pitches, 85 for strikes.
Quite a showing. Again.
Update: That’ll do it. Rafael Soriano put the final touches on a 5-1 Nats win with a perfect ninth inning.
The Nats have now won two in a row and get back to the .500 mark. The bats did their job, the defense was solid for the most part, and Zimmermann was excellent.
Back with postgame reactions in a bit.