Mr. Walk-Off and today’s lineups
From the time Zimmerman’s Major League career began on September 1, 2005, he has hit seven game-ending home runs, more than anyone else since that date. Andre Ethier and David Ortiz hold second place with six. Zimmerman also leads the Majors in any type of game-ending hit/event since September 1, 2005 with 12: seven home runs, three singles, one walk and one sacrifice fly. Just call him “Mr. Walk-Off.” Here’s a look at Zimmerman’s seven “game-over” homers:
June 18, 2006 over the Yankees–Final score: 3-2
Only 21 years old and a Major League Rookie, Zimmerman hit a two-run long ball with one out and his team down one in the bottom of the ninth to give his team their second straight comeback victory. He said he’d never done that before in all of his years of playing baseball: “No walk-off nothing–single, anything.” It must have felt great, but he would experience the feeling again, less than three weeks later.
July 4, 2006 over the Marlins–Final score: 6-4
He’s getting good at clutch hitting on the holidays. Just a few weeks after Zimmerman hits his first career walk-off home run on Father’s Day, he hits his second on Independence Day–a three-run long ball in the ninth with two outs. “You sit in the dugout and dream — nothing wrong with that,” the Nationals then-manager Frank Robinson said. “And sometimes, it comes true.”
May 12, 2007 over the Marlins–Final score: 7-3
The game started on Saturday night. Then Sunday morning at 1:42, Zimmerman finally ended it with a walk-off grand slam–two separate rain delays and one nearly-vacated stadium later.
March 30, 2008 over the Braves–Final score: 3-2
Don’t tell Zimmerman how to throw a housewarming party. On Opening Night in brand-new Nationals Park, Zimmerman launched a solo shot with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to christen the team’s new home. It landed in a section of seats directly behind a “Welcome Home” sign. Braves pitchers had successfully retired 24 consecutive Nationals batters and the host had not scored since the first inning when the face of the franchise also became the hero of the night. “You can’t really write up a script better than that,” Zimmerman said. “It turned out perfect.”
September 6, 2009 over the Marlins–Final score: 5-4
I’m beginning to think the Marlins are not huge Zimmerman fans. In his third walk-off homer over the Marlins franchise, Zimmerman hit a two-run homer to cap a furious finish in what originally looked like it would be a 2-0 snooze fest in favor of the Marlins. “Zim doing what Zim does,” Willie Harris said. “Coming through.” The Marlins twice blew two-run leads and the Nationals frantically scored all five of their runs in the last two innings.
July 6, 2010 over the Padres –Final score: 6-5
On a day where the game-time temperature was 99 degrees, Zimmerman proved he was even hotter, connecting on his second home run of the game, a solo shot to center field, to put away the Padres for good. “When you make a mistake, [Zimmerman] makes you pay for it,” one of Zimmerman’s home run victims, Padres starter Clayton Richard said. “That’s [been] proven to us over and over again.”
July 31, 2010 over the Phillies–Final score: 7-5
The Phillies broke a 4-all tie in the top of the ninth when Carlos Ruiz hit an RBI single off Drew Storen. But in the bottom of the ninth, Michael Morse singled and Adam Kennedy walked to set up Zimmerman at the plate with one out. He looked over towards Adam Dunn in the on-deck circle. “He let me know I’m not hitting again,” Dunn said. “It’s like, ‘You don’t get the win today.” Then Zimmerman followed through with a 3-run homer to start the fireworks.
Now for today’s lineups:
1. Jimmy Rollins – SS
2. Placido Polanco – 3B
3. Jayson Werth – CF
4. Ryan Howard – 1B
5. Ben Francisco – LF
6. Domonic Brown – RF
7. Carlos Ruiz – C
8. Wilson Valdez – 2B
9. Cole Hamels – SP (7-7, 3.48 ERA)
1. Roger Bernadina – CF
2. Ian Desmond – SS
3. Adam Dunn – 1B
4. Ryan Zimmerman – 3B
5. Josh Willingham – LF
6. Michael Morse – RF
7. Alberto Gonzalez – 2B
8. Wil Nieves – C
9. John Lannan – SP (2-5, 5.76 ERA)
* The Nationals have posted a .500-or-better record at home every month this season: July (9-6, .600), June (6-6, .500), May (7-4, .636), April (7-6, .538).