First baseman Ryan Zimmerman started off the season well at the plate, hitting .330 with 19 homers in the first half of the season.
But his average has declined each month since the beginning of April: .420, .319, .283 to .234 in July.
August continued that trend as he went 2-for-23 (.087) prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins.
But then Wednesday, Zimmerman reminded everyone of how he can turn that trend on its head with one swing, or four.
Against Miami, Zimmerman tallied a homer, double and single and three runs scored in his first three at-bats. He walked and scored another run in the sixth.
And he wasn’t done.
In the seventh, Zimmerman locked in on a 3-2 pitch from Javy Guerra and crushed it over the right field wall for a two-run shot, his second homer of the game.
The Nats ran away from the Marlins 10-1 with Zimmerman rolling.
After two hits to begin August, he went 4-for-4 Wednesday night with a double, two homers, five runs, and five RBIs, and reached base a career-high-tying five times. Zimmerman said his big night wasn’t ignited just because his first tally was a homer.
“For me, just getting a hit my first at-bat,” Zimmerman said. “It’s been a rough 10 days, two weeks, whatever. It’s kind of been a grind. You go through those. It doesn’t make it any more fun anytime you go through it, but it’s just to be able to have some good at-bats, hit some balls hard, and get rewarded for it.”
Manager Dusty Baker talked about Zimmerman during pregame, how he can be a streaky hitter. He reminded the media again after the Zimmerman hitting onslaught what his cleanup hitter can do any given night.
“You guys have been around Zim long enough to know -- because you’re the ones who told me what a streaky hitter he was -- but he had it going on tonight,” Baker said. “That was Zim’s night. He got a lot of hits, hit a couple homers, drove in a lot of runs, made an outstanding wide receiver-type catch down the line. It was a great night for Zim.
“He broke the record. You had (Marlins bench coach and former Expos third baseman) Tim Wallach in the other dugout over there, and I’m sure he really appreciates what Zim has done. He was a heck of a player himself.”
Zimmerman’s second-inning homer was his 906th career RBI. That put him past Wallach’s number in Montreal and set a new franchise mark.
“Anytime you can break any sort of record, I think being somewhere for a long period of time and having the opportunity to play at this level as long as I have, it’s an honor anytime you do that,” Zimmerman said.
What about the record of two curtain calls? What did Zimmerman think when the Nats Park crowd of 25,951 demanded them?
“They like curtain calls, I guess,” Zimmerman said, smiling. “I’m not gonna not go out there. Obviously, I have a special connection with all the people here. We’ve kind of grown up together, so anytime I get to do that with them, it’s fun.”
His new teammate Howie Kendrick had a night as well, going 3-for-4 with two singles, a double and three RBIs. Kendrick said it was nice to be in the same dugout as Zimmerman when the slugger went off.
“I’ve had a lot of respect for him over the years, minor leagues, fall league, and just seeing him. We didn’t get a chance to play each other a lot in the minor leagues because I was always west coast teams, but I’ve always admired him from afar and just know this year playing against him with the Phillies, he killed us. And then just being on a team with him. It’s pretty cool.”
The 4-for-4 night for Zimmerman was special because his batting average has slowly gone down since his red-hot April start. But Zimmerman, now hitting .310, spun his recent slide a different way.
“I’m usually hitting .240, so I’m ahead of the game this year,” Zimmerman said. “Nobody likes to struggle or go through slumps or not take advantage of runners in scoring positon and things like that, but it’s part of the game. Very rarely do you go a whole year where you feel good the entire time. It’s just good to have a good game.
“It’s one game, but it’s definitely better than what’s been going on over the last couple weeks. So, hopefully, I’ll carry it over into tomorrow and keep it going.”
Zimmerman reached the seventh inning having already hit a homer, a double and a single. So when his long fly ball headed toward the right field fence in the seventh, some hoped it would hit off the wall so Zimmerman would have a chance for a triple.
That’s not what Zimmerman had in mind.
“Not really,” he said. “Something catastrophic would’ve had to happen for me to get a triple, I think. Homers are way cooler than triples anyway.”