In his first major league at bat since July 22nd, Washington Nationals' infielder/outfielder Ryan Zimmerman lined a one-out single to right, taking an 0-1 fastball outside from Miami Marlins' starter Jarred Cosart the other way.
After grounding out in his second at bat in the fourth, Zimmerman lined to right in his third trip to the plate and when Marlins' right fielder Reed Johnson came up empty on an all-or-nothing diving attempt, Zimmerman, who suffered a Grade 3 strain of his right hamstring in late July in Coors Field in Colorado, was forced to make his way around the bases, arriving safely at third with an RBI triple.
It should probably should be surprising that Zimmerman was able to step right back in and go 2 for 3 in his first three at bats after 55 games away, but as anyone who's watched him since 2005 and his teammates know, that's just the way things go with the Nats' '05 1st Round pick:
Span on Zim (2-for-3, 3B in return): "That guy's unbelievable. The game's just easy for him." J. Zimmermann: "He's something special."— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) September 21, 2014
Zimmerman made it to third on the line drive, though he was able to cruise in, but in the next at bat, he was forced to test his hamstring again when Wilson Ramos sent a chopper to third.
Zimmerman broke for home on contact and Marlins' third baseman Casey McGehee came home with the throw, beating the runner to the plate and getting an out which was upheld upon review.
As Nats' skipper Matt Williams explained after the game, he would have preferred that neither the triple or the play at the plate ever happened. Zimmerman came out of it fine though.
"The ball gets by the right fielder, and he's got to run three," Williams said. "He shut it down knowing that he would get there and took it easy. Then he had to go [home].
"We're trying to bubble wrap him as much as possible, but I would imagine that that play is part of his testing process. Although we would just as soon he not try to score on that ball, but it's instinct. A ball gets hit and it's a high chopper and ordinarily he would be able to score there, and so it's instinct for him to go. I guess it's part of the testing that has to go on. Then after, given all of that, I didn't want to push it either. So he goes back out there and has to go get a ball after putting all that stress on his leg, I didn't want to do that either. So I just decided to get him out of there."
So the decision to try to score on the Ramos' grounder was Zimmerman's?
"Yeah," Williams said. "If the ball is hit hard to the third baseman, there's nobody out, they're playing the middle back, so if the ball is hit to the shortstop or second baseman, certainly, but on the corners there -- it's instinct.
"So, you tell him if the ball is hit here, we're not going to go, but if the ball is chopped in the air, it's just what they do."
"That's one of the worries with him and his leg, you get a play like that and he's got to go, instinct takes over, but it's no fun for us on the bench, for sure."
After that sequence of events that tested his hamstring, Nate Schierholtz replaced Zimmerman in left for the bottom of the seventh.
"Him coming out of the game had nothing to do with any injury or anything like that," Williams assured reporters. "It's just a big load on him. I think running a triple and having go from third is a good test for him and we didn't want to push it."
Zimmerman's RBI triple cut the Marlins' 2-0 lead in half. Ramos scored from first when Asdrubal Cabrera tripled to right in the at bat after Zimmerman was thrown out at home and Cabrera then scored when Denard Span hit a two-out single to right field to give the Nationals a 3-2 lead that held up the rest of the way.
Welcome back, Zim.