Ryan Zimmerman's multi-hit game last night was just his third of the month. Zimmerman hit a three-run home run in the first after Washington fell behind 1-0 early and then singled to load the bases in the third before Danny Espinosa cleared them with a grand slam off Cincinnati Reds' starter Brandon Finnegan.
The Nationals' 31-year-old first baseman has continued to struggle at the plate this month, with a .188/.236/.338 line, three doubles and three home runs in 21 games and 89 plate appearances, but Nats' skipper Dusty Baker talked to reporters after Washington's 13-4 win about giving the veteran infielder time to get back to being the player they still think he can be.
"Zim, he was on it," Baker said. "He's been hitting the ball better, I mean, he hasn't been getting a lot of hits to show for it, but he's been hitting the ball better, which is indicative -- like yesterday he hit that ball up the middle and hit the pitcher, and you know, we have full confidence in Zim that Zim is going to get it going, because everybody knows that he's a streaky hitter and when he gets it he can keep it for a while.
"People get impatient with that thought process, but we're winning and we can afford to wait on him because you know his turn and his time will come."
Baker talked about the patient approach they took with shortstop Danny Espinosa paying off with a month of June that saw the 28-year-old put up a .309/.418/.704 line with five of his eight doubles on the year and nine of his 15 HRs in 99 plate appearances.
"There were people calling for Danny's job earlier, you know," Baker said.
"It's a long season, and guys learn, guys get better. Guys get better with instruction. I think we've got one of the best staffs around and Rick Schu and Jacque Jones have been spending countless hours getting through to some of the guys and sometimes they get it early and sometimes they get it late, but the key is to get it and keep repeating it until they see some progress and they see some improvement, then it's a lot easier for them to listen from then on once they see their game is improving."
Both Zimmerman and Espinosa are back in the lineup tonight for the second game of four with the Reds.
Here's the Nationals' lineup for tonight's 6:05 PM EDT matchup:
• Before tonight's game, check out the latest edition of Nats Nightly: