Nationals (84-52) vs. Cubs (51-85)
Game » 137
Starters » Jordan Zimmermann (9-8, 3.01 ERA) vs. Justin Germano (2-5, 6.30 ERA)
When » Thursday, 7:05 p.m.
Where » Nationals Park, Washington
TV » MASN HD
Radio » 106.7 The Fan FM, WFED 1500, WHFS 1580
The Nationals already know they have to win to maintain their 7 ½ game lead in the National League East. The second-place Atlanta Braves won this afternoon over the Colorado Rockies – a second consecutive 1-0 victory.
Washington goes for the sweep against the Chicago Cubs in a series where it has scored 22 runs in three games and allowed just seven. The Nats have also homered six times in consecutive games. Only two teams in big-league history have ever hit five-plus homers in three straight games.
Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann gave up eight runs last Saturday against the Cardinals, fueling concerns he’s wearing down as the season comes to its critical juncture. Zimmermann himself says he’s not feeling fatigued. Washington manager Davey Johnson isn’t buying it either. Zimmermann has had a tendency to struggle on an extra rest as he was last weekend.
“[Zimmermann’s] times that he’s been up in the zone or jumping have usually come after he’s had an extra day rest. Where he’s stronger. He felt too strong,” Johnson said. “And that’s part of the learning process. When you do get that you still need to keep the same kind of rhythm and release and locating the ball. The pitcher doesn’t feel the same way every time they go out every five days. But part of pitching up here in 30-some starts is being able when you don’t have your explosive fastball that you locate it better or you use the breaking ball to set the fastball.”
Zimmermann certainly didn’t do that with eight hits and a walk allowed in just 3 2/3 innings against St. Louis. His eight earned runs were a career worst. Then again, he hasn’t exactly had to learn how to rebound from bad outings. Zimmermann was a machine earlier this season with at least six innings pitched in his first 21 starts.
Overall, Zimmermann has left games without a run scored against him three times, left with one run allowed 11 times, two runs four times, three runs four times and four runs four times. But in five of his last six starts he hasn’t finished six innings of work.
“He’s had very little blips,” Johnson said. “And [pitching coach Steve] McCatty can tell him that he’s gonna get in trouble when he jumps at the hitter, he kind of flies open. The elbow drops down and the ball goes up.”
Here are today’s lineups:
RF – David DeJesus
3B – Luis Valbuena
1B – Anthony Rizzo
LF – Alfonso Soriano
SS – Starlin Castro
C – Steve Clevenger
CF – Brett Jackson
2B – Darwin Barney
RHP – Justin Germano
RF – Jayson Werth
CF – Bryce Harper
3B – Ryan Zimmerman
1B – Adam LaRoche
LF – Michael Morse
SS – Ian Desmond
2B – Danny Espinosa
C – Kurt Suzuki
RHP – Jordan Zimmermann
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