Washington’s Nationals couldn’t come up with the big hit they were looking for last night, though Juan Soto did homer again, and Matt Wieters crushed the liner that ended things, but there was all sorts of offense in the day half of Tuesday’s doubleheader with Atlanta.
Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman sparked things with back-to-back homers in a four-run fourth inning in the day game, and the Nationals added four more in the bottom of the sixth, with three walks, a sac fly, an RBI single by Harper, and a two-run double by Zimmerman blowing things open after the Braves got within two with a run in the top of the inning.
Harper and Zimmerman’s homers in the fourth, Davey Martinez told reporters after the first game, were, “Huge hits.”
“But we need those guys plus all the other guys to keep playing the way they’re playing,” he added. “We’ve been playing really well, swinging the bats a lot better, we’re starting to drive in runs, not only just by hitting home runs, but staying up the middle of the field and getting big hits. The at bats have been good.
“Our defense has been playing a lot better, so our all-around game has been really good.
“Starting pitching has been what’s been keeping us in ballgames, and that’s why we’re winning.”
Zimmerman finished the doubleheader 6 for 8 with three doubles and the home run, his 7th of the season.
Since returning from a 58-game stint on the Disabled List, the 33-year-old infielder is now 13 for 35 (.371/.450/.714) with six doubles and two home runs. Zimmerman said he finally feels healthy, and is ready to start getting regular at bats after easing his way back into the lineup following his long DL stint.
“[Matt Adams has] had a great year, even Mark [Reynolds] has swung the bat great, so we have a lot of guys that need to get at bats,” Zimmerman said, “... but hopefully I can start getting in there a little bit more now that I’m healthy and we’ll kind of go from there, but yeah, starting to feel a little bit better and hopefully can keep it going.”
In recent weeks, as Martinez said, the Nationals have shown the ability to get rolling as a group too.
“I think it’s just contagious,” Zimmerman told reporters. “I think you go through times in the year where everyone gets hits, and then you kind of go through times where it’s tough to score runs, and I don’t think we’ve done a particularly great job of putting together good at bats like that in the first half, but I think since the All-Star Break we’ve done a better job. I don’t really think it’s a conscious effort to change the way any of us hit. Most of us have been around for a while, and do things the way that we do them, and at the end of the year our numbers are going to be where they’re at, and I think it’s just kind of grinding it out and trusting the process and kind of getting it going, and like I said, it’s contagious.”
The Nationals split the doubleheader with the Braves when they couldn’t get much going in the nightcap, but they have two more with the NL East’s second place team in the next two days, and they know how important every one is going forward.
“Every win is an important win now, got to try to win every game,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman is getting a night off tonight with Adams in at first against Braves’ righty Mike Foltynewicz.