Ryan Zimmerman was reluctantly atop the dugout steps again around 9:45 p.m. The level-headed Zimmerman seemed to feel a bit more pain the second time he was beckoned to show himself for additional adulation. Fans just wanted to deliver a final message on a record-setting night. He waved, accepting the roar of a second curtain call, then retreated.
Zimmerman had hit two homers during a 5-for-5 night. He had broken yet another Expos/Nationals franchise record, this one for career RBI, with the first of those homers. These things summon a homegrown player from the dugout, even if he would rather dine on concrete than knowingly project himself into the spotlight.
“They…ummm…I like the curtain calls, I guess,” Zimmerman said. “I’m not going to not go out there. Obviously, I have a special connection with all the people here. Kind of grown up together. Any time I get to do that with them, it’s fun.”
His night ended after 11 total bases during another Nationals offensive deluge. Zimmerman has 26 home runs in his season of resurrection. That ties for the second-most of a single season in his career. He’s seven from tying his career-high of 33, set in 2009, back when a second All-Star appearance did not appear eight years away.
Zimmerman admits to his bat’s penchant for streaks. Last season, when he flopped and presented a possible conundrum coming into this season, he explained how he had always been a streaky hitter. He was just stuck in the same kind of streak in 2016. Injuries helped send and keep him there. The season was a lost mess.
August of this season hinted at a misery redux following an opening portion of the season that sent him to the All-Star Game in Miami. Zimmerman was 2-for-23 (.087) in the first seven games of the month. His 5-for-5 night, when he hit two home runs and was short of the cycle by an unlikely triple, helped flip those small-sample size numbers. Zimmerman vaulted his average for the month to .250. It’s .310 overall.
“I’m usually hitting .240 right now,” Zimmerman said. “I’m ahead of the game this year. Nobody likes to struggle or go through slumps or not take advantage of runners in scoring position or 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.”
One other wrinkle from his robust night in the Nationals’ 10-1 win: He became the third Nationals player this season with at least four hits, four runs and four RBIs in a game. All other major-league players have done that five times combined this season, according to ESPN Stats and Info. That sort of thing prompts curtain calls.
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