This time, the Nats didn’t let Jordan Zimmermann down.
As he’s done all season long, Jordan Zimmermann gave the Nats six stellar innings. But unlike many games this season, his Washington Nationals teammates scored him enough runs and the bullpen held on — barely — to earn him his seventh win of the season, pushing Zimmermann’s personal record over .500 to 7-6, for those that still see the importance in those arcane statistics.
What is relative is the Nats winning yet another series, this time over the New York Mets, taking their second consecutive game over their division rival, 4-3, before a robust crowd of 31,660 on a less hot, but still sticky, Wednesday evening.
The Nats N.L. East leading record moves to 53-36, 4 1/2 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves and eight games ahead of third place New York.
Zimmermann cruised through six innings against the Mets, allowing just four hits and no walks in the outing, striking out four. He lowered his team-leading ERA to 2.35 in the process, though he needed 95 pitches to get through the sixth.
“He’s a man out there,” manager Davey Johnson said of his 26-year old righty. “He has a great presence. He knows what he wants to do. There’s no muss, no fuss. Here, hit it.”
Last night, the Nets could not hit it.
Once Zimmermann left the game, however, things got very interesting. Tom Gorzelanny made just his fourth appearance in the Nats last 19 games and gave up a run on two hits in the seventh. Sean Burnett got through an uneventful eighth, but Tyler Clippard ran into more trouble in the ninth.
Clippard came on to a 4-1 lead, and needed every bit of it to escape with his 15th save of the season in 17 tries. Clippard’s first pitch, a 93 MPH fastball right down Broadway, was deposited by David Wright into the bleachers above the out-of-town scoreboard in right center. He settled down to strike out Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, but Clippard left a 94-MPH fastball out over the plate that Jason Bay knocked off the left field fair pole to bring the Mets within one.
With memories of Tuesday night’s blown save still fresh in everyone’s mind, the man who did the big damage in that affair, reserve middle infielder Jordany Valdespin, came to the plate. Unlike Tuesday’s three-run homer, this time Clippard won the battle, getting Valdespin to swing through a changeup for strike three to end the game.
The Nats scored twice in the sixth off Mets starter Chris Young (L, 2-4), courtesy of an Adam LaRoche two-run home run, his 16th of the season. They picked up two more in the seventh off reliever Miguel Batista on a two-out, two-run double by Steve Lombardozzi.
THE GOOD: Jordan Zimmermann. He continues to creep up the N.L. leaderboard in ERA. After play Wednesday he was fifth in the N.L. among qualifiers at 2.35.
THE BAD: Tyler Moore went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, stranding two.
THE UGLY: Tyler Clippard. Hopefully this is just a rough patch for Clippard. Johnson emphatically said in his post-game that Clippard is still his closer, but does hope to avoid using him Thursday due to high pitch counts the last couple of games.
THE STATS: 9 hits, 1 BB, 5 Ks. 1-for-3 with RISP, 5 LOB, 2 GIDP. No errors, 1 DP.
NEXT GAME: Thursday at 12:35 pm. Gio Gonzalez (12-4, 2.93) hosts R.A.Dickey (12-1, 2.66).
NATS NOTES: Before the game, Johnson told the media he expects Drew Storen to be activated Thursday or Friday, Chad Tracy to be back in the next week, and Jayson Werth should start a rehab assignment in the next day or so. werth took batting practice before the threat of thunderstorms cancelled the rest of BP and looked very good, at one point hitting seven straight over the fence.