It was easy to sense a tiny bit of panic in the air after the Nationals dropped four in a row this week to fall under .500 for the first time since 2011. However, the past two games can put any of that silliness to bed.
After Gio Gonzalez limited the Reds to a solo homer on Thursday, Jordan Zimmermann took it a step further last night by tossing a one-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory at Nationals Park.
It was Zimmermann’s first career shutout and third complete game. He struck out four and walked one and needed just 91 pitches to get it done. The Reds’ only hit was a single by Xavier Paul in the third inning.
Homer Bailey was pretty excellent in his own right, allowing five hits over seven innings while striking out six and walking none. But an RBI single by Jayson Werth in the bottom of the fourth inning was enough to put him on the losing side.
Zimmermann is now 4-1 with a 2.00 ERA and 19/7 K/BB ratio in 36 innings over his first five starts this season. While he doesn’t get much attention because of the presence of Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, the 26-year-old right-hander owns a 2.95 ERA since the start of 2011. Only Cliff Lee, Jered Weaver, Johnny Cueto, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw have a lower ERA (min. 300 IP) during the same timespan.
Your Friday box scores:
Blue Jays 4, Yankees 6
Astros 3, Red Sox 7
Phillies 4, Mets 0
Cubs 4, Marlins 2
Braves 0, Tigers 10
Pirates 1, Cardinals 9
Rangers 4, Twins 3
Rockies 6, Diamondbacks 3
Rays 4, White Sox 5
Giants 1, Padres 2
Orioles 3, Athletics 0
Brewers 5, Dodgers 7
Angels 6, Mariners 3
Indians/Royals – postponed
The Cardinals went from winning 100 games last season to 82 entering Wednesday evening’s game, and they might not even make the playoffs. Still, the organization will bring back manager Mike Matheny for the 2017 season, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Owner Bill DeWitt, Jr. said, “Mike’s done a really good job for us. There’s no thought that we’re going to go in any different direction.”
GM John Mozeliak also expressed his support, saying, “Mike takes a lot of heat, and I’ve defended him and I will continue to. I really feel like some of the things that we’re dealing with aren’t fair to put on the manager.”
Mozeliak continued, “I do feel like all of us are always held accountable for what we do here, so there’s nobody excluded from that. But having said that, I don’t look at him as someone that we are where we are because of that.”
Matheny has received criticism for his bullpen usage, but the Cardinals have only 15 blown saves as a team, the fourth-lowest total in baseball this season.
The Phillies’ bullpen led to yet another loss on Tuesday. Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Joely Rodriguez, and David Hernandez combined to allow six runs in five innings, allowing the Braves to come back and win 7-6 after falling behind 6-0 after the first two innings.
The game prior, the Phillies’ bullpen surrendered 14 runs in four innings in a 17-0 loss to the Mets. The game before that, the bullpen yielded four runs in four innings, nearly squandering the Phillies’ 10-0 lead after four innings. And last Thursday, the Phillies had taken an 8-6 lead in the top of the 11th, but Edubray Ramos served up a walk-off three-run home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s been a tough month.
Manager Pete Mackanin ripped the bullpen when speaking to the media after Tuesday’s game. Via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:
Neris was going to close for us. I thought about using him with two outs in the eighth. But, at some point, somebody else has to do a (bleeping) job. Somebody else has to (bleeping) step up. In two games now, every reliever I brought in has given up a (bleeping) run. That’s unheard of.
The Phillies currently own the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 4.97. Only the Rockies (5.12), Reds (5.07), and Diamondbacks (4.98) have been worse.
In fairness to the bullpen, aside from Jeanmar Gomez (who lost his job as closer earlier this month) and free agent signee David Hernandez, the bullpen is intentionally comprised of young, inexperienced pitchers as the Phillies are still rebuilding. If the Phillies were aiming for a playoff spot, it would be one thing, but the struggles are to be expected when one throws 24-year-olds into the deep end.