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
MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.
Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.
Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.
Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.
The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.