Going into Saturday afternoon’s game with the Chicago Cubs, 18 for Ryan Zimmerman’s 39 hits this season were extra base hits (nine doubles, two triples, and seven home runs).
Since returning from a 58-game stint on the Disabled List, Zimmerman was 14 for 42 with a .333/.417/.619 line in the second-half, with six of his doubles and two of his home runs in 13 games and 48 plate appearances, leaving him with a .248/.318/.465 line in 46 games and 173 plate appearances in his 14th major league campaign.
Zimmerman added his third second-half home run in the top of the first inning in Wrigley Field, working the count full against Cubs’ left-hander Jon Lester (against whom he was 3 for 19 with two doubles heading into the game) and sending a 91 mph cutter out into the center field bleachers for a two-run blast and a 2-0 Nats’ lead.
Zimmerman hit a sac fly to center in the third, putting the Nationals up 3-0, then took Lester deep again in the fourth inning, as part of a six-run rally, sending a 91 mph 3-2 fastball out to center, well over the 368 ft sign on the wall for a three-run blast that put the Nationals up 9-1 in what ended up being a 9-4 win.
Zimmerman ended the day 2 for 3 with a walk, two runs scored, and six RBIs, leaving him with a .256/.326/.506 line, nine doubles, and nine home runs in 178 PAs.
“I don’t want to cop out on anything but I guess I’m just in this rut right now,” Lester said after the loss, as quoted by Chicago Sun Times’ writer Chris Kuc.
Two for the price of one, courtesy of Ryan Zimmerman. pic.twitter.com/MTixAZjsrT— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 12, 2018
“I probably felt like that was some of the best stuff I’ve had over the last couple of starts and that was the outcome.”
“I thought we did a good job waiting [Lester] out,” Zimmerman told reporters, as quoted by Mark Zuckerman at MASN. “And when he did make those mistakes, we took advantage of them.”
Considering Zimmerman was initially penciled in as the No. 6 hitter in the lineup, and was only moved up to the cleanup spot when Anthony Rendon was scratched, things worked out well for Zimmerman and Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez.
“Zim, when he’s good, he’s a cleanup hitter,” Martinez said after the game. “He’s been that guy. It was nice to be able slot him in against a lefty and split [Bryce Harper] and [Juan Soto] up, I mean it really was. It gives the opposing manager something to think about if he has to make a pitching change.
“What a day he had too, all of them. [Daniel] Murphy, [Matt] Wieters had a great day, so those guys swung the bats really well.”
“He has a ton of confidence in his swing right now,” Murphy told MASN’s Dan Kolko after the game.
“He’s making really good decisions at the plate, he’s not giving away pitches. Right there in that first inning he gets us off and rolling right there with that two-run homer and then to come back and hit the three-run shot, not to mention the tack-on sac fly, he was locked in all day, making great decisions at the plate, and making a lot of loud noises.”
“I think it was big for him, and it was big for us too,” Martinez said.
“If we can get him going, or continue to get him going the way he’s going right now, that’s going to be a huge addition.”