By Matt Snyder
Last year at this time Jordan Zimmermann was recovering from Tommy John surgery. Thursday night, the 24-year-old right-hander had a perfect game through five innings against the first-place Phillies. He ended up allowing two earned runs on five hits through seven innings -- lowering his ERA to 2.95 -- and heads home with the loss.
It's hard to really blame Zimmermann's Nationals teammates for not giving him any run support. When Cliff Lee is locked in like he was Thursday night, he needs very little help. So much for the last outing when he couldn't get through the fourth inning. That wasn't him, especially since only four of the 22 hitters he faced hit line drives.
Thursday night was vintage Lee -- just as I predicted .
He walked only one. He threw a complete game. He was so efficient he only needed 99 pitches. The 12 strikeouts were one shy of his career-high, set July 27 of last season. The Nationals only managed a mere three hits and only one man made it past first base.
Lee deserves all the praise for this masterpiece, even if he made it look so effortless -- but Zimmermann deserves some credit, too. That's a quality outing for an up-and-coming pitcher. He just happened to run into a man who has long since arrived.
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