Jordan Zimmermann’s mission in last start of the regular season was to show manager Matt Williams he’s ready and able to pitch in the Division Series later this week.
Is a no-hitter a strong enough statement?
BOX SCORE: Nationals 1, Marlins 0
The Washington Nationals right-hander shut down the Miami Marlins for a 1-0 victory and the first franchise’s no-hitter since it moved to Washington in 2005. The last one for the franchise was Dennis Martinez’s 1993 perfect game against the Dodgers for the then-Montreal Expos.
But it took a diving catch by September call-up and late-inning defensive replacement Steven Souza Jr. in deep left-center field for the final out.
"I thought that was a double for sure and here he comes out of nowhere and makes the play," Zimmermann said. "This is the best, for sure. You want to go out on top, that’s for sure, and get some momentum going into the playoffs.
"I knew it was over my head," says Souza. "I was just hoping I had a prayer of laying out. Anything can happen when you hit the ground. I came down like a football catch and that thing wasn’t getting out."
It’s the second consecutive year the Marlins’ season ended with a no-hitter. Henderson Alvarez, the losing pitcher Sunday against Zimmerman, pitched one last year against Detroit, a no-hitter that wasn’t official until the Marlins scored the game’s only run in the bottom of the ninth.
Zimmermann originally was scheduled to pitch Friday but had his start pushed back two days because he was recovering from a bruised shoulder suffered when hit by a line drive off the bat of Miami’s Casey McGehee last weekend.
This time, the Marlins didn’t hit much of anything. They only had two base runners — Justin Bour reaching on a walk in the fifth inning and Garrett Jones reaching first base after a wild pitch on strike three.
That’s the inning Zimmermann said he realized he had a no-hitter and, until Souza’s, was the pivotal inning.
"We got lucky in the fifth," Zimmermann said. "There were three hard-hit balls."
The outs that inning were line drives to infielders – Jones to first baseman Tyler Moore, Reed Johnson to third baseman Kevin Frandsen and J.T.Realmu to to shortstop Danny Espinosa.
Zimmerman, 28, is in his sixth season with the Nationals after being selected by the team in the second round of the 2007 draft. He’s 14-5 this season and lowered his earned run average to 2.66 this year after leading the NL with 19 victories last season.
GALLERY: RECENT NO-HITTERSTags: football, game, show, sports, today