Craig Heist, wtop.com
VIERA, Fla. - Jordan Zimmermann was impressive in his third outing of the spring going four innings, allowing five hits while striking out three as the Nationals and the Florida Marlins finished in a 1-1 tie after nine innings.
Zimmermann lowered his spring ERA to 3.38 in 10 2/3 innings. About the only thing you could fault with the outing was the fact Zimmerman gave up hits with two outs in three of the four innings, yet that didn't bother him.
"I'm just trying to throw strikes and pound the zone right now," Zimmermann said. "I don't know what the strike-ball ratio was, but I'm guessing it was pretty high, but I'm just trying to throw strikes and get early contact."
The pitch count for four innings was 78 pitches, 54 strikes as the Marlins made Zimmermann work as they fouled off a lot of pitches off against him.
"When your fouling pitches off, they aren't putting it in play so it's hard to get early contact when you're not hitting it solid which is a good sign and a couple of the hits they did get weren't hit very hard, so I'm pleased with the outing."
Zimmermann will have three more starts this spring, and today manager Davey Johnson liked what he saw out of his young right-hander.
"Zimm was great, he threw the ball exceptionally well," Johnson said. "He was really strong there at the end too. He was a little wild but it was hard, great stuff, kind of like everybody else is going out there, being a little wild, throwing good but not where they need to be. It was a good day of work for him."
Over these last three starts it will be about building arm strength and making sure he is ready for the start of the season.
"I'm just trying to get better every time out and I feel stronger. You know, the control is getting better and better and my timing is getting better, so I'm really happy," he said.
Nats blow a chance to win in the ninth
With the score tied at 1-1, the Nationals were in position to win the game. They got a leadoff single by Jason Michaels off Sandy Rosario. That was followed by a Brett Carroll single to left sending Michaels to third.
Jhonatan Solano then grounded out to the second baseman, Donovan Solano and Carroll was then caught in a rundown between first and second and was tagged out to complete a double play.
Michaels should have run on contact and Carroll should have broke for second. Roger Bernadina then grounded out to end the inning as the game finished in a tie.
Manager Davey Johnson wasn't happy with the base running error and after the game indicated there was a mix-up between third base coach Bo Porter and first base coach Trent Jewett as to how the play was supposed to be handled.
"The mistake we made from the get-go is with the infield in, you run because they're not going to cover," Johnson said. "We were protecting against the line drive and you don't worry about any line drives. In that case, you get another guy in scoring position. So, on a ground ball, you still have a runner in scoring position and then he goes, so that was not a good picture to see. That's a base running mistake and we have been pretty good but that wasn't pretty."
Tigers in town
The Nationals will take on the Detroit Tigers Sunday at Space Coast Stadium at 1:05. Edwin Jackson makes his fourth start of the spring. Jackson is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA. He has pitched 9 1/3 inning, allowing just two earned runs. Jackson has walked four and struck out five. He will be opposed by Doug Fister, who is 2-0 and has yet to give up a run.
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