Craig Heist, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann very rarely shows his emotions but after giving up two runs on eight hits over seven innings in a 2-1 loss to the Orioles Friday night, you wouldn't blame the right-hander for throwing some equipment against the wall.
Zimmermann's offense let him down once again as they managed just one run on five hits. Much of that can be attributed to Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel.
Hammel went eight innings and tied a career high with 10 strikeouts. The run charged against him was unearned in the fifth inning when Ian Desmond scored on a Mark Reynolds throwing error.
This stat might just put it all in perspective.
Coming into the game, Zimmerman had a 3-5 record with an ERA of 2.92. On the other hand, Hammel came in with a record of 7-2 and an ERA of 2.87. Zimmermann actually lowered his ERA to 2.89.
Two pitchers giving up basically the same amount of runs and yet one is now 8-2 after Friday night's game and the other is 3-6.
Baseball is a cruel sport sometimes.
"Zimm pitched his heart out and pitched a great ballgame," said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. "The difference is probably just a couple of inches. (JJ) Hardy hit the ball right over there and drove in the go-ahead run and Flo (Jesus Flores) hit a ball, hit a bullet and Hardy made a hell of a play on it."
Johnson was referring to the Nats seventh inning. After one out singles by Desmond and Danny Espinosa, Hammel was facing Flores who hit a ball that was headed for the left center field gap but Hardy leaped and snared it, ending the inning.
Look up the term "tough luck loser" in the encyclopedia and Zimmermann's picture would be right there.
"We're hitting the ball hard but right at guys," Zimmermann said. "It will come around. We're struggling a little bit right now but we'll be all right."
If it bothers Zimmermann, he doesn't show it. He has lasted at least six innings while giving up no more than four runs in each of his 14 starts but, Zimmerman has gone five games without a win, and the Nationals have not won in his last five starts.
Despite Zimmermann's lack of success in the win column, Johnson knows his right- hander has pitched much better than his record indicates.
"He's been doing that all year long, he's pitched great," Johnson said. "We just haven't been scoring for him. I mean, we hit the ball hard today with runner on and we just came up - zilch."
"He's been as consistent as any of the guys. We are just getting him the fewest runs and its tough. I thought we had a chance there (in the seventh inning) and we had the runners going and Flo hits it on the button -- probably score two runs there. It's a game of inches," Johnson said.
Desmond said while the lack of run support for Zimmermann has been a constant theme, there is no reason to be upset about it.
"Not at all. He goes out and gives us his best effort all the time. It's not like we aren't trying. We are in first place, nobody should be down, and nobody should be upset," he said. "He's giving a good effort, we're giving a good effort and sometime someone's got to lose."
Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez combined have a record of 18-4 and the Nationals have won 82 percent of the games in which they have gone to the mound. Some of that good fortune needs to find its way to Jordan Zimmermann.
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