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
Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.
This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.
Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.
Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.