May 1, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton (8) reacts to a strike out in the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
One mistake is all that it takes, and Paul Maholm made exactly one more mistake than Jordan Zimmermann did on Wednesday night.
Maholm hung a 4th-inning curve ball to Washington shortstop Ian Desmond, and Desmond deposited the pitch 416 feet from home plate to Center Field to account for the only scoring of the night. Outside of the hanger, Maholm was tremendous on Wednesday, throwing 8 innings while allowing only 3 hits, those 2 runs, and striking out 4 Nationals. The problem was that his counterpart was nearly flawless.
Jordan Zimmermann entered the game with a 4-1 record and a 2.00 ERA, but his performance exceeded even those lofty numbers. Zimmermann threw 8 shut-out innings, allowing only 2 hits (a single by Justin Upton, and a very unlikely double by Paul Maholm), didn’t walk a batter, and struck out 8 Braves over his 107 pitches. He baffled the Braves lineup throughout the night, and there wasn’t a single threat to speak of.
This was one of those “cap-tip” games for Atlanta, as it was clear in the early going that Zimmermann was virtually unhittable. On the bright side for the Braves, they did make some contact in this game (only 9 strikeouts), but it wasn’t solid contact, and great pitching beats great hitting most of the time.
As the series finale approaches on Thursday, there isn’t too much to gleam from Wednesday’s action, but it is important for the Atlanta line-up to wake up a bit, and they’ll square off with a struggling Dan Haren in an effort to right the ship. Stay tuned.