1st baseman goes back-to-back with Harper as Nats jump on Reds
By Jeremy Vernon
CINCINNATI -- After taking the day off Sunday, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman made history on the first pitch he saw Monday afternoon in the Nationals' 6-1 victory over the Reds.
Less than a minute after Bryce Harper gave Washington a 3-0 lead with a three-run home run to right, Zimmerman put a charge into a 86.2-mph sinker from Cincinnati starter Scott Feldman, lifting the ball over the wall in left-center for a solo homer. The Nats added one more run in the frame on Matt Wieters' sac fly.
"I think it's special to be in one place your entire career," Zimmerman said. "For me, it's more being around the same people, creating relationships, being able to have the ability to do that. You can't do stuff like this if you're not in the same place for a long time. So I feel very lucky to have spent my entire career here. I'm honored to have hit more home runs than any Expo or National, so it's cool."
Zimmerman was in a slump prior to Monday's first-inning blast and eventual 3-for-5 performance. In his previous 15 games, he was 9-for-51 (.176), and he hadn't hit a home run or had at least three hits in a game since June 13.
"The last couple weeks have been a grind, and [I] haven't really felt great," Zimmerman said. "And yesterday started to feel better. Today I felt good. I still feel a little -- not like I felt a month or so ago -- but that's part of the season, and that's why we play 162 games. And you have to find a way to make it through those week or twos where you don't feel that great."
Zimmerman's home run was part of a five-run first inning for a Nationals team that has made a habit of racking up runs early. During their four-game sweep of the Reds, Washington outscored Cincinnati, 9-0, in the first.
"What it does is it picks us up, knowing that we've come out and you've jumped them early," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "Because a lot of times, days when you don't hit, it takes four or five innings to kind of get into it. And also, when you're going for a sweep, it kind of deflates the opposing team a little bit. And you're like, 'OK, here it goes again.'"
Jeremy Vernon is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati who covered the Nationals on Monday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.