Sep 28, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcherJordan Zimmermann
(center) is congratulated by catcherWilson Ramos
(right) andKevin Frandsen
(19) after recording the final out of a no-hitter against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit:Brad Mills
-USA TODAY Sports
Just when we thought Friday’s start from Doug Fister was the Nationals’ best pitching performance of the season, Jordan Zimmermann took the mound two days later and turned in the best pitching performance in Nationals history.
Making his first start since bruising his shoulder Sept. 20 in Miami, Zimmermann wrapped up the regular season for the Nationals in historic fashion, throwing the first no-hitter in team history in front of 35,085 fans at Nationals Park.
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Zimmermann accomplished the feat on just 104 pitches, 79 of which were strikes. The Nationals’ right-hander tore through the Marlins’ lineup time and time again, striking out 10 batters and walking one.
The Marlins only had two base runners all day. The first came on a two-out walk to Justin Bour in the fifth inning. Garrett Jones struck out in the seventh inning but reached base when the third strike got by Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos for a wild pitch.
“We wanted to get him through five or six [innings],” manager Matt Williams told MLB.com. “But you can’t deny him an opportunity to let something special like that happen in somebody’s life. Once he got to the sixth inning, he was going until he gave one up.”
While Zimmermann was dealing on the mound, his offense wasn’t giving him much help. The Nationals had trouble figuring out Marlins starter henderson Alvarez, who allowed just one run on 11 hits over seven innings. Washington’s only run came on a solo home run by Ian Desmond in the bottom of the second inning, his 24th of the year.
Zimmermann dominated for the first 26 outs of the no-hitter, but nearly lost it at the end when Christian Yelich hit a sharp line drive to deep left field with two outs in the ninth. Steven Souza Jr., who took Ryan Zimmerman‘s place in left for defense in the ninth, chased the ball near the warning track and made one of the greatest catches of the year to preserve Zimmermann’s no-hitter and a 1-0 win for the Nationals.
"“Whatever he wants,” a Gatorade-soaked Zimmermann said when asked what he would buy Souza. “I don’t even care. I thought that was a double for sure, and here he comes out of nowhere and makes the play. All the guys behind me today did a great job. We were switching guys in and out. This is a big win for us, and I’ve got to thank all these guys playing behind me.”"
While Souza’s catch definitely saved the no-hitter, the story of the day was Zimmermann, who capped off a career year with one of the most memorable moments the team has had since it moved to Washington nearly 10 years ago.
With today’s win, Zimmermann finishes the regular season 14-5 with a 2.66 ERA in 199 2/3 innings. The Nationals’ right-hander has been phenomenal since the All-Star break, going 7-0 with a 2.00 ERA in his last 10 starts.
The win also gives the Nationals their second best record in team history. Washington ends the regular season 30 games over .500 at 96-66, just two wins shy of their team-record 98-64 finish in 2012.
With the regular season behind them, the Nationals can now turn their attention to making a run at the World Series. They’ll face the winner of the NL Wild Card game in Game 1 of the NLDS Friday at Nationals Park.
Here’s a video of Souza’s ridiculous catch. Enjoy!