In the final exhibition game before the 2013 season, the Nationals lost 4-2 to the New York Yankees behind a good day for Andy Pettite and a bad day for Jordan Zimmermann.
Zimmermann lasted just 3 1/3 innings before being pulled with a four-run deficit. He exited after 69 pitches, 49 of them strikes, with seven hits allowed and four earned runs.
Manager Davey Johnson said Zimmermann told him “the ball feels like a bowling ball,” similar to how Gio Gonzalez categorized his recent poor start. But afterwards Zimmermann brushed off the outing and described it as not a concern.
“The fastball was good, the offspeed was good, I just made a few mistakes and they hit a few balls hard. Get those out of the way now,” he said.
“I feel healthy and I feel good so I think we’re ready to go.”
The Yankees scored all four of their runs in the fourth inning, beginning with a solo home run by Kevin Youkilis. Travis Hafner then singled, followed by a double by Vernon Wells to put two men in scoring position. Eduardo Nunez knocked both runners home and then scored on a Chris Stewart single.
Zimmermann was replaced in the fourth inning by Zach Duke who started a run of solid pitching for the Nationals out of the bullpen. Duke bridged them through the fifth, then Henry Rodriguez, Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Clippard, and Drew Storen closed it out inning-by-inning. The string of scoreless frames showcased a bullpen as deep as any in the National League.
“Jordan got us into the fourth and it wasn’t like we needed anyone to come in and give us anything other than normal,” Storen said.
“It’s an unbelievable tool to have in the belt when you can do that. When you got back of the bullpen guys that can come in to throw the sixth and seventh inning, it’s unbelievable.”
Storen was the last to pitch for Washington and took the mound at Nationals Park for the first time since blowing the save in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. He received a loud ovation from the crowd, something he described as “special.”
“It really means a lot to me,” he said.
Bryce Harper capped his stellar spring training with another hit, this time off Andy Pettite whom he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against last season at Nationals Park. Harper slapped a single in his first at-bat off the Yankees lefty
“Andy Pettite’s a great pitcher and he was pretty unbelievable out there. Being able to face him in the last outing, he makes you work a little bit and gets you ready,” he said.
Pettite finished with one earned run, five hits allowed, and six strikeouts in six innings pitched.
Future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera also pitched in the game, earning the save with a shutdown ninth inning. He was honored prior to first pitch with a number 42 Nationals jersey signed by the entire team.
Storen on Davey Johnson’s confidence
Storen had an interesting quote when asked about the swagger Davey Johnson brings to the locker room, I thought it was worth passing along.
“It’s funny, he doesn’t throw it in your face. He’s just, ‘this is how it is.’ It’s a business, just be professional about it. It’s funny because a lot of times confidence from him comes from him not saying anything to you. If you go out and struggle, he’s not going to come over and make you feel good about yourself. He’s going to put you out there in the same situation the next night. That goes a long way and it shows you that he’s been there, he’s been in our shoes before. It helps us a ton.”