Pirates end Paul Maholm’s scoreless inning streak

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Paul Maholm entered tonight’s start against the Pirates with a 0.00 ERA and 20.1 consecutive scoreless innings over three starts. The lefty took his streak into the sixth inning until it was finally snapped on an Andrew McCutchen RBI double. Gaby Sanchez followed it up with a two-run home run to give the Pirates a 3-1 lead. After ending the inning with a double play, Maholm has a 1.03 ERA over his first four starts, a mark surpassed only by Matt Harvey among starters who have made their fourth start already.

ESPN Stats & Info tweeted earlier that Maholm was attempting to become the first pitcher in the modern era to open a season with four straight scoreless starts.

Remember, the Braves acquired Maholm last July when a deal with Ryan Dempster didn’t work out. Maholm and Reed Johnson joined the Braves and they sent out Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman.

The Braves lost their second baseman during the game as well, as Dan Uggla exited the game with a left calf strain, per MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. Ramiro Pena replaced him and he should be expected to start as long as Uggla is on the shelf.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉