MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Unable to get good grip, Zimmermann turns in short start

Unable to get good grip, Zimmermann turns in short start

BOSTON -- Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann had one of the worst games of his career, as his ERA skyrocketed from 1.50 to 8.64 during a 9-4 loss to the Red Sox on Monday afternoon. He lasted 2 1/3 innings, allowed eight runs -- seven earned -- on nine hits.

Zimmermann even hit two batters in the game. The Nationals played poor defense behind Zimmermann, but he declined to use the miscues as an excuse. In fact, he said he had a tough time gripping the baseball.

"Yeah, I mean I was bad today. It's not like me to walk a guy and hit two guys. I just didn't have a feel for the ball and really had no clue where it was going all day," said Zimmermann, who didn't record a strikeout for the first time in 147 big league starts. "My mechanics were fine. I was rubbing the ball up, and after I'd rub it up, it would still feel chalky. It was just not a good day for me.

"I was not trying to let [the defense bother me]. I had my own problems to deal with on the mound. That stuff happens. Obviously I know it's windy out there. It's going to happen."

Even Zimmermann had his own problems on defense. In the first inning, Boston center fielder Mookie Betts drew a walk. With David Ortiz at the plate, the Nationals had their defensive shift toward right field. Betts then stole second base and then third after he noticed that no one was covering third. Zimmermann ran hard toward third and thought Betts was tagged out.

Nationals challenge safe calls

The Nationals challenged both plays, and after further review, the call stood.

"I saw him slide into second. I saw him get up and take off," Zimmermann said about Betts. "I was heading straight for third, and by the looks of the replay, I still think we had him. I felt like I put the tag on. Just didn't go our way."

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