The Nationals have had a rough go of it against the Braves going back to September last season. Until Wednesday, the Nats had lost their last eight against their rivals, but the Nats new stopper, Jordan Zimmermann, was on the mound to take care of business in a 3-2 victory that allowed them to return to the .500 mark at 14-14.
Jordan Zimmermann has quickly emerged as the Nationals best starting pitcher in the early part of the 2013 season. Through five starts, Zimmermann had already thrown two complete games, including a shutout his last time on the mound in just 91 pitches. He hasn't given up more than three earned runs all season, and that was in his complete game against the Marlins on April 15.
Zimmermann was able to take advantage of the Braves lineup for eight strong innings on the way to the Nats first victory of the season against them. He was at 107 pitches through eight, and he probably could've finished the game, but Davey Johnson wisely decided to use Rafael Soriano for the save. Zimmermann didn't allow a run or a walk, surrendered just two hits, and struck out a season-high eight batters. The Braves are known for their propensity to strike out, after all. Zimmermann has now lowered his season ERA to 1.64, and he has a downright incredible 2.93 FIP.
On the offensive side of things, there still wasn't much to get excited for on the Nationals. In the fourth inning, Bryce Harper walked to lead off the inning. Ian Desmond, in his first career game hitting cleanup, blasted his fourth home run of the season immediately after Harper's walk to give the Nats their only two runs of the game. Luckily, because of JZimm's performance, it's all they'd need.
In other major news on the injury front, Bryce Harper grounded out to Freddie Freeman in the sixth inning. Prior to that out, he tried to pull back on a check swing and immediately favored his left side. He was removed from the game, which immediately fueled speculation of a huge problem for the Nats. Apparently, after crashing into the wall trying to catch Tim Hudson's home run on Tuesday night, Harper's left side is pretty banged up. The Nats trainers and Harper believe it's just related to that, and it's not a serious injury that will keep him out for any length of time. He's currently day-to-day.
So the Nationals win another gorgeous game from Jordan Zimmermann, who is now 5-1 on the season. The offense is still something to be a bit concerned about, but Jayson Werth should be back soon from his ankle and hamstring issues, Ryan Zimmerman will be back with the team on Friday after completing a brief rehab stint in Potomac, and Bryce Harper doesn't look to be seriously hurt. Hopefully having those guys back in the lineup together again will help spark the offense by the end of the week.