Zimmermann takes focused approach vs. Mets

Zimmermann takes focused approach vs. Mets

Zimmermann takes focused approach vs. Mets
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann had his best outing of the spring in a 3-2 victory over the Mets on Wednesday.

Zimmermann pitched six shutout innings, allowed two hits and struck out two batters. He pitched efficiently, throwing 68 pitches, 47 strikes. He also had nine ground-ball outs. At one point during the game, Zimmermann retired 11 straight hitters in what was the best Spring Training outing by any Nationals pitcher this year.

"He was superb, to say the least," manager Davey Johnson said. "He had a low pitch count and he started to get some pitches up in the sixth inning. But he had the low pitch count and just an unbelievable outing. That's Zim, the guy you've come to know and love."

Zimmermann said he treated this particular start as if he was pitching during the regular season. On April 8, Zimmermann is expected to pitch the third game of the regular season against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

"I felt good today. When I'm getting ground balls like that and keeping the defense in the ballgame, that's what I want to do," Zimmermann said. "I'm working down in the zone. That's when I'm getting all the ground balls. If I start, leaving balls up, you will see more fly balls and home runs. But today, I felt good and I kept the ball down.

"I had a talk with [pitching coach Steve McCatty], and he said, 'Let's go after these hitters like you are going to go after them during the season.' That was the game plan."

Johnson wanted Zimmermann to go an extra inning, but Zimmermann couldn't do it because he sustained a large blister on his foot before the sixth inning. The injury is not considered serious. Zimmermann is expected to make his next start on Monday against the Red Sox in Lee County.

"He had a low pitch count. He started getting the ball up in the sixth inning," Johnson said. "I was going to take him for seven innings. He was that good. He had a huge blister at the end of his foot. ... It must have caused a little discomfort, because his ball came up [in the sixth inning]. He made adjustments and got out of the inning. That was the first time in the whole game I didn't see him really crisp with his command."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.