Williams on Zimmerman’s strong return, Zimmermann’s strong start in 7-0 win

Ryan Zimmerman returned to the Nationals lineup after more than seven weeks on the disabled list.

Jordan Zimmermann returned to his peak form after a subpar month of May.

A bunch of other Nats played a part in tonight’s 7-0 drubbing of the Phillies, but in many ways, tonight was the night of the Zimmerman(n)s.

Or should we go with Zimmermen(n)?

zimmerman-catch-white-sidebar.jpgPlaying his first big league game in left field, Zimmerman caught the only two balls hit his way in seven innings, including a nice running catch on a Chase Utley bloop on which he got a great break and made a neck-high grab. He also had two doubles, an RBI and drove a ball to the track in right-center that was mere feet away from giving him a third extra-base hit on the evening.

Zimmermann went eight scoreless innings, allowing just five hits and a walk and striking out four. This comes after the normally-consistent right-hander had posted a 5.96 ERA over his previous four starts.

Manager Matt Williams discussed those two topics, and more, in his postgame comments.

On the win and Zimmerman’s return: “Well, we saw tonight what he can do offensively. It’s nice to be able to have it the way that we wanted to have it initially. We’re still missing a guy, but it was good. Guys swung the bat tonight. Jayson (Werth) got a 3-0 pitch and didn’t miss it, Zim drove in a run after them walking Adam (LaRoche). So it’s good. All around good. Jordan pitched really well, too, and (Tyler Clippard) as well. So, good victory for us.”

On the depth that the Nats lineup now has with Zimmerman back: “Yeah, it’s the way we set out to do it. But like we talked about today, it doesn’t always work out that way. But it’s nice to have everybody back, and Zim played well out there. So everything was good.”

On how Zimmerman is able to be so sharp offensively after just a handful of rehab at-bats: “Just that he hits the ball the other way so well. So he can stay on a pitch, that’s his natural stroke. So it happens quickly for him, quicker than most, because he can do what he did tonight - get a two-strike pitch and hit it down the right field line. I think that’s the biggest thing for him - he just stays on the ball really well.”

On how tough a play Zimmerman’s grab was on Utley’s bloop: “Yeah, he’s gotta come get it. And he’s on the run. The fly ball, too, it’s a tough sky that time of night. He judged it really well and made the play. It was good for him to get four ABs. We wanted to get him out of there and not push him too quickly. So it worked good tonight. We’ll evaluate tomorrow, see where we’re at.”

On if Zimmerman was taken out just to ease him into action: “Yeah, it’s only, what, his fourth game? He only had three rehab games (in left), so he hasn’t gone extended games out there. It was just a function of where we were at in the game and getting him out of there and trying to keep him as fresh as possible.”

On what made Zimmermann so good tonight: “I think his slider. He threw a lot of sliders today for strikes. He really has not really found it, as we talked about. He’s thrown some good ones, but it hasn’t been consistent. Tonight was really consistent. He worked his changeup a little bit, worked his sliders to the right-handers, and was able to throw it for a strike, which is good.”

On how big this was to get Zimmermann back on track: “Sure, yeah, for him. For him it’s important. He’s kept us in games and we’ve had chances to win and all of that. But tonight was a really good step for him because he was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes and he was able to command the zone really well. So it’s good.”

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