Jordan Zimmermann's low pitch count in win helps prep for Mets

Oftentimes, starting pitchers say they don't let the amount of runs their offense is scoring during their outing alter what they are trying to do on the mound.

But when your team scores 10 runs in the first three frames, it doesn't hurt.

Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann struggled with his control a bit early, he allowed three walks to the first five Atlanta hitters he faced, but battled through in a 15-1 Nationals win over the Braves.

Despite the four walks allowed overall, he only surrendered two hits over six innings.

"A few too many walks for my liking, but they gave me some runs early and I was able to settle in," Zimmermann said. "Just throw strikes, fill up the zone and let the guys behind me play defense."

"Coming out of the bullpen, he wasn't as crisp as he wanted to be," said manager Matt Williams. "Runs will help you settle in, too. He was able to just attack hitters and go after them. Made it through six pretty good."

Jordan Zimmermann throws white side.pngZimmermann said home plate umpire Clint Fagan was calling a tight strike zone to begin, which didn't allow him much wiggle room on close pitches.

"Obviously, leading off with (Nick) Markakis, I threw a few good pitches," Zimmermann said. "I was hoping they'd be strikes, and they weren't, could've gone either way. I ended up walking him.

"Second inning to (Nick) Swisher, I thought a couple of those were strikes and they weren't. I just had to start throwing the ball over the middle a little more. I couldn't nibble on the corners any more. Once they got me those runs, I was in attack mode the rest of the game."

Zimmermann said he messed up his footwork in the second, getting called for a rare balk after walking Swisher to begin the inning.

"I guess a little bit too much Little League World Series caught up to me," Zimmermann said. "I got on the mound, and I knew something wasn't right. I'm like, 'Just step off,' and I ended up stepping off with the wrong foot. Huge mistake on my part and ended up costing me a run."

In the second and third innings, the Nationals batted around and the innings took some time to complete. The good news: The Nationals poured it on with eight runs on nine hits in those two frames. The bad news: Zimmermann had to sit around and work on making sure his arm didn't cool down too much.

"Yeah, it's tough, long innings and you're sitting around, arm gets a little tight," Zimmermann said. "I'd rather have long inning with a bunch of runs then short, quick innings.

"It takes a lot of pressure off of us. We can just go out there, don't have to be perfect, just make some pitches, know these guys are going to score runs, so it's a lot easier."

Zimmermann finished up six innings having thrown only 87 pitches. It was the fewest pitches thrown by Zimmermann in his past seven starts, dating to 76 pitches over six frames July 28 at Miami in a 4-1 loss.

The low pitch count also could help him as he prepares for next week's gigantic matchup against the first-place New York Mets.

"It's huge," Zimmermann said. "I've had a couple of outings where I've pitched 100, 115 pitches and to have a short one like this and get a little extra rest and hopefully be good to go when we face those guys."

"It's important to limit Zimm a little bit," Williams said. "He's been 100, 116, 100 (pitches) in his last three with some heavy workloads. So we got him out of the game, which is good. Limited pitch count through six. That's a good thing for him going into his next one."

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