July 5, 2006
I continue to be astounded by how quickly Ryan Zimmerman is maturing into a first-class all-around player. His batting average now surpasses that of Alfonso Soriano, who has been in a terrible slump but got two home runs in Monday's 9-1 thrashing of the Marlins. Yesterday (July 4!), Zimmerman grabbed the limelight once again with his second career walk-off home run, turning a 4-3 defeat into a 6-4 victory with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. It's a virtual repeat of what he did when the Nats beat the Yankees on June 18. Manager Frank Robinson, who is very understated by nature, struggles to contain his elation at how well Zimmerman is doing. With 12 home runs and a solid defensive performance at third base, he is on track to being named NL Rookie of the Year. MLB.com
The Nationals have now won four games in a row, something they had not done since early June. Now ahead of the Braves, and facing the third-place Marlins tonight and tomorrow, they have a chance to climb further in the standings. Not that it means that much, since the Mets are so far ahead in the NL East, but it would help to regenerate some of the fan enthusiasm the team enjoyed last year. It is worth remembering that it was the disheartening loss to the Mets in RFK Stadium on July 4 last year that marked the downturn in the Nats' fortunes.