Ryan Zimmerman improved to 4 for 24 (.167/.259/.500) with runners in scoring position this season with his three-run home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game, then hit a solo shot later in Washington’s 11-5 loss in the finale with the New York Mets. Zimmerman’s 3 for 4 night and 4 for 13 series in Citi Field left him 10 for 62 early this season (.161/.235/.371) with two triples, three home runs, five walks, and 17 Ks after 68 plate appearances.
Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez talked excitedly after taking two of three from the Mets in Flushing, Queens, NY about Zimmerman’s bat heating up after a slow start to his fourteenth major league season.
“Zim is starting to swing the bat. I love it,” Martinez said.
“I felt like for a while he’s been hitting the ball really well,” he added. “I said the hits would start coming, and he showed it today, and if we can keep them going we’re going to start getting explosive.”
Martinez has been preaching patience, telling reporters before Tuesday night’s game that he had recently pulled up some exit velocity information for Zimmerman to assure the 33-year-old, who’s has the third-highest exit velo off the bat in the majors, that if he kept it up the hits would eventually come.
“We don’t want him to tinker,” Martinez insisted. “He’s swinging the bat really well. He is you know, and like I said, one hit here, one hit there, and he’ll be in good shape.”
Zimmerman told reporters late on Wednesday night he believed if he kept grinding away it would work out.
“Keep going and kind of trust the process as they say,” Zimmerman said. “I’ve been hitting the ball hard, but obviously not everything has been great, and you can’t make that excuse for every single at bat, but definitely nice to have a good game, and played a good series, come here and win two out of three, and if we do that every time I think we’ll be all right.”
Zimmerman showed signs of life at the plate, but also made another cringe-worthy throw trying for a double play on a grounder to first off Jose Lobaton’s bat with runners on first and third in the fourth inning.
Zimmerman popped off first to field the ground ball, turned toward second base, and threw around the runner, wide of the bag, pulling Trea Turner off as a run scored, getting the Mets within one in what was then a 3-2 game.
Nationals’ starter Tanner Roark worked around the error, preserving the lead, which the Nats held until the bottom of the eighth, when the Mets rallied with a nine-run inning.
It was Zimmerman’s first error of the season, but another in a long line of bad throws that have plagued the corner infielder since he started dealing with shoulder issues in 2012.
“I just think he got out too far and had to throw the ball back the other way,” Martinez said when asked about the error.
“It happens. These guys aren’t perfect, I get it. I know. It’s a play we make 9 out of 10 times.”
“If I just throw the ball to second, we get the double play,” Zimmerman acknowledged.
“Just a bad throw, and kind of rushed it a little bit instead of taking my time, but yeah, if I make a good throw to second I feel like we can get Loby and get out of the inning. Tanner picked me up, and gave us another ground ball and got out of it, but just a bad throw, got to make a better throw.”
Neither the error or the disappointing loss in the third game of three with the Nationals’ NL East rivals, spoiled the series for Zimmerman, however, since the Nats did manage to win it.
“Our goal is to win series,” he said.
“Sweeps are hard to come by in this league, and obviously a nice bonus when you get them, but it’s a good team over there ... very competitive series, first game obviously was big for us and then great game for us last night and then another back and forth tonight, so two out of three and get on the plane and enjoy a much needed off day.”