VIERA, Fla. — There was a point on Sunday afternoon at which Jordan Zimmermann had gotten 27 outs since he’d last given up a hit. Yes, it was spring training. Yes, it was over the course of two games — one in which he gave up a single to open the game and then retired the next 18 batters he faced.
But getting 27 outs (a full game’s worth) without giving up a hit certainly seems like a feat, regardless of what caveats you can throw in.
“It means I’m close,” Zimmermann said Sunday after the Nationals beat the Braves in a rain-shorted game that featured some near-30-mph winds.
“Obviously it feels good to get outs, and to get 27 in a row, that means I’m doing something right. I feel good. I’m ready to go. I feel strong and I can’t wait for the season.”
Zimmermann opened the game against the Braves with three hitless innings, facing the minimum thanks to two double plays that cleared out walks. Andrelton Simmons singled to open the fourth inning, ending Zimmermann’s interesting streak.
Zimmermann went six innings and allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits and three walks. He struck out four on a day so windy he said it “felt like I was on a ship out there,” and threw 85 pitches. He’s scheduled to start for the Nationals on Friday in D.C. against the New York Yankees in their final exhibition game of the spring.
“I’m pretty much ready to go,” Zimmermann said. “I definitely feel good. The fastball is right where I want it and the change-up has come a long ways. I feel like I can throw it at any time.”
– Danny Espinosa has been putting together a strong spring offensively, showing no ill-effects from the torn rotator cuff he spent the winter rehabbing by building strength in the shoulder muscles around it. Espinosa was 3-for-3 on Sunday, falling just a triple shy of the cycle to continue his recent strong stretch.
Facing Braves’ right-hander Kris Medlen, Espinosa singled in his first at-bat and homered in his second. Batting left-handed, Espinosa hit his first home run of the spring to the opposite field on a line drive shot. In his final at-bat of the rain-shortened day, Espinosa doubled batting right-handed.
The Nationals’ second baseman is now hitting .349 on the spring and is 10-for-his-last-22 (.455).
– Bryce Harper wasn’t slowed by whatever swelling there was in his left hand, the result of getting jammed. Harper was 3-for-3 on Sunday with two singles, a double and two stolen bases.
He tried wearing a small rubber guard, which a lot of players use, that nestles between his thumb and his forefinger to protect against getting jammed. But Harper was not entirely comfortable using it during batting practice and opted not to use it during the game.
Harper is now hitting .431 on the spring with nine extra-base hits.
– Ross Detwiler said he felt good after starting a minor league game on Friday afternoon and he expected to start on Wednesday in Viera when the Nationals have a split-squad. Stephen Strasburg will also pitch that day in a minor league game.
Detwiler, who will be lined up as the Nationals’ No. 5 starter, will likely have to throw a simulated game or an extended side session in D.C. to remain sharp for his first start of the season, which won’t come until April 6.
– The Nationals got Rule 5 pick Danny Rosenbaum back from the Colorado Rockies, closing the book on the players taken from them in the Rule 5 draft this past December. Rosenbaum, a left-handed starter, could serve as valuable insurance for the Nationals at Triple-A.