- The Washington Times - Friday, June 26, 2009

Jordan Zimmermann will undoubtedly have more nights like this before his big league career comes to an end. It’s probably safe to say, though, that no matter how many games he wins before calling it quits, this one will always have a special place in his heart.

It wasn’t just that the Washington rookie thoroughly dominated for seven innings during a cathartic 9-3 victory Thursday night. It was that he did it against a future Hall of Famer, in front of an overflow crowd, against a loaded Boston Red Sox lineup.

Zimmermann had already turned some heads in his first two months as a major leaguer. This, however, might well have been the 23-year-old’s coming-out party.

With seven innings of one-run ball, Zimmermann blew away the Red Sox for his third career win. With a barrage of hits against 42-year-old John Smoltz in his Boston debut, Washington coasted to a rare blowout victory before a crowd of 41,985 — another new Nationals Park record.

A great pitching performance. A prolonged offensive attack. A sellout crowd. Have the Nationals enjoyed such a perfect confluence of events at any other point this season? Not likely.

This was only the seventh time this year Washington won a ballgame by more than three runs. For the first time in a long time, manager Manny Acta actually was able to pull some starters early and relax during the game’s final innings.

For that, he could thank Zimmermann, who turned in his fourth straight solid outing, a stretch during which he has posted a sparkling 1.90 ERA and re-established himself as the premier rookie member of the Nationals’ rotation.

Zimmermann (3-3) was on his game from the moment he took the mound, retiring the side in the top of the first and setting a tone that would remain the rest of the night. He threw 39 of his first 53 pitches for strikes, carried a shutout into the sixth and departed having thoroughly impressed a Boston lineup that had been averaging 5.4 runs a game.

This, of course, was nothing new for the organization’s top pitching prospect. Though he has experienced some ups and downs thus far in his rookie season, Zimmermann at his best has been quite impressive. He has allowed two runs or fewer in seven of his 12 starts.

That he did it again Thursday going up against a pitching great like Smoltz only added to the scene.



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