When I previewed this Braves-Nats series at the beginning of the week, I noted that Jordan Zimmermann had been Washington's best pitcher so far over the first month of the season. He looked every bit that role tonight, baffling Braves' hitters with perfectly located, darting fastballs. Atlanta managed only two hits off the Nationals' right-hander all evening, and only advanced one man past first base en route to a quick 2-0 loss.
The Braves offense was, well, offensive tonight, mustering only two hits. One was a Justin Upton single in the first inning, and the second was a Paul Maholm double in the third. Both Upton and Maholm were left standing on the bases. They were the only two baserunners Atlanta managed.
As bad as the Braves' offense was, Jordan Zimmermann deserves just as much credit. Zimmermann's fastball was dancing all night, and he located it impeccably. The best most Atlanta hitters could do was swing weakly. Even Upton and Maholm's hits were not rockets. Zimmermann didn't walk a batter and whiffed eight through eight sterling two-hit innings. He notched his fifth win of the season.
Baseball is often called a game of inches, and tonight was one of those games. Paul Maholm was Zimmermann's equal for most of the game, but one mistake pitch cost Atlanta the game. After he walked Bryce Harper in the 4th inning, Maholm hung a breaking ball to Ian Desmond, who jumped all over it and rode it out to left-center. That was all the scoring on the night. Maholm kept pitching well, going eight inning and allowing only three hits and two walks. He also struck out four.
Tonight's loss broke a nine game winning streak against Washington, dating back to last year. Washington runs their record to .500, and is now 3.5 games back of the Braves. Atlanta still has a great chance to take the series tomorrow, however, as Kris Medlen takes the hill. Opposing him will be Dan Haren, who is unquestionably the Nationals' worst starter. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM.