So if it wasn’t the neck, why was Zimmermann so off tonight, allowing seven hits, two walks and two runs in just four innings of work?
“I had really, really good stuff today,” Zimmermann said. “I just either was 0-2 and I let them back in the count or I fell behind 2-0, 3-0 and I had to battle. Get it back to full count, they fouled a few pitches off, every pitch was a constant battle tonight.”
Zimmermann was dominant up until the All-Star break, posting a 2.58 ERA and 0.967 WHIP in 19 starts. In his four starts since the All-Star break, Zimmermann has a 6.75 ERA and a robust 1.929 WHIP.
“I have no clue (what the difference is),” Zimmermann said. “I feel like my stuff’s the same. Just maybe missing over the middle a little bit and making a few mistakes when there’s runners on. Early in the year I had runners on and I’d make a good pitch and be able to get out of it. Right now it’s just not going my way.”
Ryan Mattheus retired the first three batters he faced tonight (getting the final out in the seventh and the first two outs in the eighth), but he allowed Andrelton Simmons and Joey Terdoslavich to reach and then Ian Krol let three runs come in to break the game open.
“It’s pretty frustrating, especially because we could have changed the momentum of the game,” Krol said. “Things could have been a lot different, but we’ve got a big off day tomorrow, and we can all regroup, think about things and get back at it.”
Krol left an 0-2 slider up over the plate to Jason Heyward, and Heyward ripped it to right for the game-winning hit.
“I had it working,” Krol said of his slider. “But I was just filling up the zone with my pitches too much and left it over the plate. Obviously I wanted it down and out of the zone. He’s a good low ball hitter, but I was kind of second-guessing myself. I think I should have thrown an inside fastball up and in on him, but it is what it is.”
Mattheus also lamented his mistakes, especially his first-pitch cutter to Simmons that was roped for a double that started the rally.
“All three of those games were tough, but the way we lost that one tonight, especially when I was out there, it’s tough to swallow,” Mattheus said. “We came back and tied the game, Jayson (Werth) scoring that run there, I’d have loved to go out there and hold them at 3-3. But I made a bad pitch to Simmons, actually a bad decision to throw the pitch -- you know that’s my third-best pitch.
“If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t throw a slider right there. But you live and you learn, but that’s going to be a tough one to swallow.”
If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, here are some quotes from Tanner Roark, who threw two scoreless innings tonight in his MLB debut.
“(The nerves) were up there,” Roark said with a smile. “As soon as the (Werth) home run went out, I was up in the bullpen and they came even more, you know? Nerves were high. First big league debut. It was great. It’s exciting. Very nerve-wracking. All in all, I’ll take it.”
Roark ended his outing by diving to snag a popped-up bunt and then he doubled B.J. Upton off first for the final out of the sixth inning.
“Yeah, I’d like to see the replay of that because it didn’t feel as graceful as I’m sure it looked,” Roark said.