The best news of the day came before the game, when the Nationals’ medical staff analyzed Ryan Zimmerman‘s MRI and found no major damage in his inflamed right shoulder. The good news continued later when the Nationals cruised to a 7-2 win over the San Diego Padres behind Washington’s other star “Z-mann” right-hander Jordan Zimmermann. The victory improved Washington’s National League-best record to 14-4.
Zimmermann pitched six innings of four-hit ball, with six strikeouts. He escaped a jam in the sixth inning by firing a 94 mph fastball past Padres right fielder Jeremy Hermida, preserving the Nationals’ 2-1 lead and his first win of the season. Tom Gorzelanny allowed one run in relief to earn a three inning save.
Both Zimmermann and Gorzelanny helped themselves with RBI singles. Zimmermann, perhaps weary of his usual lack of run support, showed his mates the way with a 2-out single in the second inning to give Washington a 2-0 lead.
The Nationals broke the game open in the 7th against Padres’ relievers Luke Gregerson and Josh Spence after Zimmermann departed for pinch hitter Mark DeRosa. Adam LaRoche, with a single, and Jayson Werth, with a walk, each drove in a run with the bases loaded and catcher Wilson Ramos hit a clutch 2-out, 2-RBI single to raise the Nats’ lead to 6-1. Gorzelanny took care of matters after that.
Off the field, the other Zimmerman, Ryan, looked to be facing a lengthy absence given manager Davey Johnson’s comments last evening. Johnson said he was “concerned.” Today, the Nationals appeared to get much less troubling news. While it looks like Zimmerman is headed to the 15-day disabled list, he is going to give batting practice a try tomorrow. If all goes well, he may avoid a trip to the DL. If placed on the injured list, the earliest Zimmerman could return is Sunday, May 6 in the final game of the “Our Park” series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
With Ryan due back in a game or two or in 10 days, Jordan continuing to pitch brilliantly (his ERA is now 1.33) and a guaranteed sixth consecutive series win, the season opening good times continue for the Washington Nationals and their fans.
Champ of the Game: Zimmermann, who pitched his normal 6-7 innings with one run allowed and earned his first win of the season.
Honorable mentions go to LaRoche, who went 3-4 with 2 runs and an RBI, Ramos (2-5, 2 RBI), and birthday boy Danny Espinosa, who got his cold bat going with two hits and scored a run.
Chumps of the Game: Padres’ hitters got seven hits, but went 0-6 with runners in scoring position.
For the Nationals, Chad Tracy went 0-3 with a strikeout as he filled in for the injured Zimmerman.
Unsung Hero: Ian Desmond, who is quietly becoming more patient at the plate, walked twice and scored two runs, exactly what the Nationals need from the leadoff spot.
Next Game: Thursday, April 26, 10:05 p.m., Petco Park. The 14-4 Nationals go for their first 3-game series sweep of the season as Edwin Jackson (1-1, 4.26) faces Edinson Volquez (0-2, 4.30), the marquee pitcher the Padres picked up in their offseason trade of Mat Latos to the Cincinnati Reds.