Jordan Zimmermann says neck problems aren’t to blame for shortest start of career

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Jordan Zimmermann sat out the All-Star game because of a lingering neck injury that’s bothered him for months and then struggled yesterday in his first start of the second half, failing to make it out of the third inning in the shortest start of his career.

However, afterward the Nationals right-hander insisted to James Wagner of the Washington Post that the injury isn’t to blame for his coughing up seven runs while recording six outs:

It was just one of those days where nothing was working. The neck feels awesome. I threw when I was home a little bit. When I was back, I had a few days to throw. I had plenty enough time to throw and get ready. But the command wasn’t there.

Zimmermann went 10 days between starts, which probably helped the neck injury and hurt his command. According to Wagner even manager Davey Johnson “feared that Zimmermann’s struggles were because his neck was acting up again” before being told otherwise.

Video: Corey Dickerson breaks scoreless tie with walk-off home run

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Neither the Pirates nor the Tigers could manage any offense during Thursday afternoon’s game at PNC Park. That is, until outfielder Corey Dickerson launched a walk-off solo home run off of Alex Wilson with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Dickerson, 28, has been solid for the Pirates for the first month of the season. He’s batting .314/.348/.500 with a pair of home runs, 13 RBI, and 13 runs scored in 92 plate appearances. The Pirates acquired him from the Rays in late February in exchange for journeyman pitcher Daniel Hudson and Single-A infielder Tristan Gray.