Bouncing Back Big

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Early in a young season, teams are still settling into the flow of the campaign, still forming the identities that will define them over the course of 162 games. A quick glance at Washington’s results through the first couple weeks may lead one to wonder what kind of team these 2013 Nationals truly are. But before jumping to any conclusions, positive or negative, take heed from someone who knows best.

“You’re never as bad as you look when you lose, and never as good as you look when you win,” said skipper Davey Johnson after the weekend series against the Braves.

He echoed that sentiment after Monday night’s 10-3, series-opening thrashing of the Marlins.

Jordan Zimmermann steadied the ship and gave the bullpen a day off.

Jordan Zimmermann steadied the ship and gave the bullpen a day off.

“You know, we don’t live in the past,” he said. “We don’t worry too much about things. We take it one day at a time, and this was a perfect example.”

The Nationals snapped out of their weekend funk with a roaring first inning, scoring four runs before Jordan Zimmermann ever took the mound. They added on with two more in the third, fourth and fifth to open up a 10-0 advantage behind their workmanlike third ace, who delivered his first-ever, nine-inning complete game. While it was a big game to reverse momentum and preserve the bullpen, it was only fitting that the even-keeled Zimmermann controlled the tempo throughout. Nevertheless, he allowed himself to relish in his accomplishment.

“It means a lot,” he said of his 103-pitch performance. “It means I’m doing my job, staying in the game, putting up zeroes. That’s the kind of pitcher I want to be. I want to be a workhorse.”

Zimmermann, who was the first Nationals starter to two wins, now leads the team and shares the league lead with three, to go along with his 2.45 ERA. After getting precious little run support through much of his 12-win campaign last year, he has been the beneficiary of 21 runs of offense through his first three outings this season.

“It seems like we all hit better when Jordan pitches,” said Ian Desmond, whose 4-for-5 night raised his average to .320 for the season. “Last year, we didn’t hit for him. This year, we’re hitting for him.”

Zimmermann will not finish the year 33-0 with a win in every start. The Nationals will not win every game they play against Miami this season, nor lose every one against Atlanta. It is important to keep perspective, especially considering this – entering play on June 4 last season, 39 games farther into the campaign than they currently sit, the Nationals were in a three-way tie for first place with Miami and the New York Mets. Seriously, see for yourself.

Regardless of how much stock you want to put in a single game’s outcome, though, it was a good night to get a win and get back on track.

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