"That was as good as it gets right there," Davey Johnson said as he entered the Nationals' media room for the post game press conference after Friday night's walk-off win over the Philadelphia Phillies. "All those that left early, they missed something." After the Nats tied it at 4-4 in the ninth against Phils' closer Ryan Madson on a one-out Ian Desmond bases-loaded RBI bloop single, Rick Ankiel struck out , leaving it up to the face of the Nationals' franchise, Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman worked the count full and then crushed a fastball from Madson, sending a no-doubter out to left for a walk-off grand slam that sent the D.C. Faithful home happy and lifted the Nationals above New York into third place in the National League East.
The Nationals' manager pointed out after the game that it wasn't just the grand slam that had impressed. "What a game he had," Johnson said, referring to Zimmerman, "He made a couple of plays that nobody in this world I can see makes. And what a great at bat. Hit a bullet down the right field line on a ball away, took some tough pitches and then crushed that ball. As soon as it hit his bat, from my angle, I knew it was fair and I knew it wasn't going to hang around long."
"He's one of those great players that's totally in control in those tough situations," Johnson said when asked how Zimmerman's able to come through consistently with the late-game heroics. "He's very calm. The rest of us get a little excited, but he doesn't." It was Zimmerman's second walk-off Grand Slam. The first also took place after another long delay in Nats Park on May 12, 2007, when Zimmerman capped off a five-run ninth with a walk-off winner off Florida Marlins' reliever Jorge Julio at 1:42 am.
Tonight's walk-off grand slam came at 12:25 am EDT. Asked which of his walk-off-winners was his favorite after the game winner in an MLB Network Radio interview with MLB Round Trip host Jeff Joyce, Zimmerman said, "Any time you can do something and help your team win, and just coming around the bases and having your team waiting at home plate, it doesn't get any better than that."
"I've always tried to put the pressure on the pitcher," Zimmerman explained, "If you think of it that way, you think if he makes a mistake he's the one trying to think that way, 'I hope I don't make a mistake,' and if you can kind of stay calm and stay within yourself and not try to do too much it usually helps."
"It was a good at bat," Zimmerman concluded, "and I got it to 3-2 and once I got to 3-2, it's 99% chance he's probably going to throw a fastball there, so..." Grand slam. Ballgame.
"That was as good as it gets right there," Davey Johnson said.