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Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 04/20/2012

Zimmerman continues upswing at the plate

In the six games leading up the Washington Nationals’ recently completed series against the Houston Astros, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was batting .167 with one RBI and still searching for his first home run of the season.


Ryan Zimmerman is dialed in. (Toni L. Sandys - THE WASHINGTON POST)
Manager Davey Johnson had insisted Zimmerman was dialed in at the plate, though, and it was only a matter of time before the well-hit balls sent directly to outfielders would start finding the gaps.

That’s just how circumstances unfolded for Zimmerman during the Astros series, with Washington taking the first three games before falling last night, 11-4.

Zimmerman connected on a three-run shot in the third inning of that game to draw the Nationals within 5-4 after they had fallen behind by five runs in the first inning.

It was the kind of no-doubt blast that punctuated a series in which Zimmerman batted .375 (6 for 16) with five RBI to increase his average this season to .236.

“Yeah, he crushed that ball,” Johnson said. “I mean he’s been swinging the bat pretty good basically all year. Getting some bad luck, but he’s changing all that.”

Zimmerman’s homer came on the first pitch he faced in the inning against Astros starter Bud Norris, who had allowed a single to Steve Lombardozzi and a double to Danny Espinosa to begin the third.

Norris tried to throw a fastball past Zimmerman, but the ball wound up beyond the visiting bullpen in left-center field, providing the Nationals a brief opening.

But Washington’s hopes of extending its winning streak to four games ended when the Astros touched reliever Tom Gorzelanny for six runs over two innings.

Now it’s on to a three-game home series against Miami, which has won four in a row following a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs. The Marlins are two and a half games behind Washington in the National League East.

“I felt good,” Zimmerman said. “I think I’ve only had a couple games where I didn’t really feel comfortable at the plate, but I hit a couple balls hard and just got to keep working and stay consistent and go out this weekend and look to win another series.”

By  |  12:15 PM ET, 04/20/2012

 
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