What all of us thought would be the main storyline for Wednesday's game was ultimately overshadowed by Max Scherzer's historic 20-strikeout gem, but the return of Jordan Zimmermann to Nationals Park did provide some special moments as expected.
The now-Tigers right-hander received a nice ovation from the 35,695 in attendance when his name was introduced pregame and then before his first at-bat in the third inning he got a standing ovation. Zimmermann stepped out of the batter's box and doffed his helmet to show his appreciation.
Those moments were much-anticipated ever since he signed with Detroit, a team the Nats just happened to have an early season interleague series against this season. They also perhaps helped right the wrong of Zimmermann not getting a similar moment of appreciation in his final start with the Nats in September.
“It means a lot to me, my family and everybody that I played with. It was great," Zimmermann said of the standing ovation. "I really didn’t know what to expect. I tipped the cap and just want to thank them too.”
Zimmermann pitched well all things considered with seven innings and three runs allowed. He was upstaged, though, by Scherzer and allowed enough scores to take his second loss of the season.
Zimmermann afterwards admitted it was a challenge to face his former team.
"I was a little amped up and wasn’t really making my pitches," he said. "Some of these guys have seen me for six or seven years so they know how I set guys up and know how I pitch. It’s a little more difficult to pitch to guys that have been seeing you for awhile.”
Zimmermann also gave up two RBI hits to Daniel Murphy, whom he didn't play with in Washington but faced plenty of times when the two were counterparts in the NL East. Murphy has proven a problem for opposing pitchers this season and Zimmermann couldn't solve him.
"Murphy was up there wiggling his bat in front of the signs and I couldn’t see so I kept stepping off," Zimmermann said.
Bryce Harper did play with Zimmermann in Washington and managed two hits off his former teammate. He relished the challenge of facing Zimmermann.
"I didn’t like the standing O they gave him, because he’s pitching against us. But he deserves that," Harper said. "He’s fun to watch. And he’s fun to face as well. Anytime you’re able to face a guy you played with, who's a competitor, who did a lot of things for this organization... it's fun."