Washington Nationals: Iconic image of Zimmermann defines his time in DC
Normally, on the last game of the season a team rests its star players. Especially if that team is heading to the postseason. In 2014, the Washington Nationals walked away with the NL East title, yet wanted to give Jordan Zimmermann his turn in the rotation on the last day of the season to keep him in tune for the playoffs.
Zimmermann may pitch six-seven innings, or eighty pitches, whichever came first. One problem. The opponent on that day was the Miami Marlins, and they were hitless through six innings. Then seven innings. Then eight innings.
Image of Jordan Zimmermann after his no-hitter is how Nationals’ fans should remember him.
Zimmermann was the quiet pitcher on the pitching staff with the boyish good looks. He came from a college (University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point) who had only churned out one Major Leaguer before him. His workmanlike personality embodied the franchise he was pitching for. A pull yourself up from the bootstraps team who had only been to the playoffs once since the franchise had relocated from Montreal.
Prior to taking the mound against the Marlins on the last day of the season, Zimmermann was riding back-to-back seasons in which he appeared in the All-Star Game. He won a league best 19 games the season prior and would finish his current season with 14 wins and a 2.66 ERA.
Against the Marlins, a fifth inning walk was all that was standing between him and perfection. Regardless, Zimmerman stood on the mound with one out to go before claiming a no-hitter. A young Christian Yelich drove the next pitch deep into the gap between the right fielder and center fielder.
Zimmermann watched the trajectory of the ball, then shrugged his shoulders some, anticipating the no-hitter being ruined with one out to go.
Then a flying Steven Souza Jr. happened. Then the crowd erupted. Finally, Zimmermann held his hands to the sky in joy, in relief, in exhaustion, in exultation. The no-hitter was secured. The first in Washington Nationals history.
Zimmermann would pitch one of the best playoff games in team history later that season, although he would not figure in the decision. Zimmermann would win 70 games during his time with the Nationals, maybe none more iconic than his victory on the last day of the season against the Marlins, in 2014.
And the image which captured his reaction is how we should remember Jordan Zimmermann’s time in Washington.