What to Watch for: 5.30.13
Washington Nationals (27-26) vs. Baltimore Orioles (29-24)
RHP Dan Haren (4-5, 5.43) vs. RHP Freddy Garcia (1-2, 4.61)
For all the things Ryan Zimmerman has done as a Washington National, Wednesday night brought with it a career first: a three-home run game. Zimmerman hit his three rockets in typical fashion, too, pulling one into the bullpens in left-center, squaring the second shot to straightaway center, then going with a high fastball and blasting the final shot out to right. And while the accomplishment was somewhat overshadowed by the game’s final result, it was a great sign for a crucial member of Washington’s lineup.
With both Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth still out, the month-long resurgence of Adam LaRoche has helped to fill the offensive void. But a hot-swinging Zimmerman – who doubled his yearly long ball total with his three Wednesday night – marks another key component to the bats supporting the excellent job done by the pitching staff so far this season.
“Tonight everything kind of came together in one game,” said Zimmerman Wednesday night, a statement that was not just limited to hit power display.
Coming off of offseason shoulder surgery, Zimmerman has been working to find his groove again defensively at third base. The one-time Gold Glove Award winner looked every bit of that, turning in a pair of highlight-reel defensive gems.
It was a nice (if entirely coincidental) touch that Zimmerman’s career game would come on World MS Day, the day dedicated to awareness of the condition from which his mother suffers.
1. Span CF
2. Bernadina RF
3. Zimmerman 3B
4. LaRoche DH
5. Desmond SS
6. Moore LF
7. Tracy 1B
8. Suzuki C
9. Espinosa 2B
After plating just 22 runs in nine games (2.4 runs per game) from May 14-22, Nationals bats have warmed up by averaging 5.2 runs per contest since. During the six-game offensive surge, Washington has hit .293/.336/.498 with 11 doubles, two triples and nine home runs. Washington’s .834 OPS ranks fifth in MLB in that span.
THE ORIOLE (PARK) WAY
Before Wednesday’s 9-6 setback at Oriole Park, the Nationals had allowed just seven total runs in their previous four games at Baltimore. Unfortunately for Washington, those four previous contests at Camden Yards included just a single win (3-1 on June 23, 2012) and a trio of 2-1 setbacks.
Steve McCatty’s starting staff has fashioned a 3.42 ERA this season that currently ranks third in MLB behind only the Cardinals (2.61) and Reds (3.19). Last season, Washington paced the National League and ranked second in MLB in starters ERA at 3.40.