While double headers are often very enjoyable in the eyes of fans, they tend to be nightmares for MLB managers who try to figure out how to save their bullpens. The easiest answer to this problem, however, is to just have their starting pitchers go deep into the games. During the first game of Tuesday’s day-night double header against the Toronto Blue Jays (23-30), Jordan Zimmermann was that answer, as he and Drew Storen combined to shut out the Jays 2-0.
Game one began as a pitcher’s duel as Zimmermann and Jays starter R.A. Dickey locked horns early on with neither giving ground to the other teams lineup. The two teams were scoreless through four innings, as Zimmermann was carving up the strike zone with a sizzling fastball and a hard slider while Dickey was displaying a knuckleball that was fluttering like a butterfly.
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However, the Washington Nationals (29-22) were finally able to break through in the bottom of the fifth inning. Jordan Zimmermann, helping out his own cause, singled to left center to begin the inning. Yunel Escobar followed by walking on four pitches before Ian Desmond laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third with one out to bring up Bryce Harper.
Harper, who hadn’t looked comfortable at all with the knuckleball through his two prior at-bats, appeared to make an in game adjustment and singled up the middle to score Zimmermann. Ryan Zimmerman capped off a long at-bat with a sac fly to center field to score Escobar and give the Nats a 2-0 lead.
Zimmermann ended up only needing those two runs for the victory, slicing up a daunting Blue Jays lineup en route to his fifth victory of the year. His only trouble came in the top of the seventh inning. After Chris Collabello and Josh Thole singled to begin the inning, Ezequiel Carrera laid down a sacrifice to put the tying runs in scoring position.
The Blue Jays elected to have Edwin Encarnacion pinch hit for Ryan Goins and Jordan Zimmerman pitched around him, walking the Jays slugger on five pitches. Russell Martin would pinch hit in the pitchers’ spot, but Zimmermann kept his cool, inducing a grounder to second base to begin a 4-6-3 double play. Zimmermann would end up going eight shutout innings, striking out four while allowing six singles. Drew Storen would set down the Jays in the top of the ninth for his NL leading 17th save of the season.
Next Game: Max Scherzer (6-3, 1.51) will take on Marco Estrada (1-3, 3.89) tonight in the second game of the double header at Nats park. The game will begin at 7:05 ET and can be seen on MASN and MLB.TV.