After being on the wrong end of a walk-off against the Indians on Friday night, the Nationals are in need of a bounce-back performance. And there's nobody they would rather have on the mound in that situation than Jordan Zimmermann, the reliable right-hander who could become the second starter in the Majors to reach 10 wins.
Zimmermann boasts a 2.00 ERA and hasn't allowed an earned run in each of his past two starts. Besides a rough outing in Baltimore (seven earned runs in six innings), he has allowed just 13 earned runs in 12 starts.
The Nationals hope that Zimmermann will help them continue their recent spurt, which included consecutive series wins against the Rockies and Twins.
"Things are going to continue to get better, hopefully," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said Thursday. "I think it's pretty impossible for things to stay the way they have been the whole year."
The Indians are in a similar situation. Including their current set against Washington, the Tribe has played nine consecutive series against teams with a winning record and won just seven of its past 23 games, including three sweeps. But after taking two of three against the Rangers and winning in walk-off fashion in the series opener, it seems like things are beginning to click.
"We show up every day to win," manager Terry Francona said. "When [losses] start building, everybody feels it, myself included. But you have to be able to weather those things and come through them."
In search of their fourth straight win, the Indians will hand the ball to veteran Scott Kazmir. Kazmir is 3-4 with a 5.33 ERA and has allowed four or more earned runs in half of his starts this season.
Indians: Perez has bullpen session
Closer Chris Perez hasn't pitched in a game since May 27 because of a mild tendinitis in the rotator cuff of his right shoulder, but he threw a bullpen session on Friday and likely will make a rehab appearance in the Minor Leagues this weekend.
Francona said that Perez struggled with command during his bullpen session but otherwise looked good. The Indians skipper hopes that Perez will only need one rehab appearance before rejoining the team next week.
"Hopefully, he's to the point where maybe it's only once. We'll see," Francona said. "Because he wasn't down that long, I don't think getting back is going to take a really long time."
• The Indians agreed to terms on Friday with first-round Draft pick Clint Frazier, the No. 5 overall selection. The team has not officially announced the deal, but Frazier said on Twitter that, "I have agreed to terms on my signing bonus with the @Indians, I will sign tomorrow !! #Tribe." A source close to the negotiations said that Frazier's signing bonus is worth $3.5 million.
Nationals: Espinosa starts rehab assignment
Ailing second baseman Danny Espinosa played five innings at Triple-A Syracuse on Friday after completing three innings the night before. In the first two games of his rehab assignment, he is 1-for-5 with two runs scored and two strikeouts.
Espinosa is recovering from a bone chip in his right wrist, though manager Davey Johnson said the injury is not the only concern.
"I don't think the injuries are going to set him back," Johnson said. "I think he needs to get his timing down and start feeling good about himself from the left side and the right side [of the plate]."
Espinosa's usual replacement at second, Anthony Rendon, is batting .370 (10-for-27) in seven games.
• Only four Nationals have ever faced Kazmir over the course of his nine years in the Major Leagues. The hitter who knows Kazmir best, Kurt Suzuki, is 2-for-22 (.090) against him.
• Gio Gonzalez threw 127 pitches against the Indians on Friday, the most he's thrown as a National.
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.