With the bases empty in the third inning, the count 2-1, Reds starter Mike Leake tried to fool Morse by throwing him a third consecutive slider. Morse stayed back as the ball broke over the plate and drilled the ball over the scoreboard in right field, the sixth opposite-field home run he has hit this season.
“It’s really impressive,” Zimmerman said. “To be able to hit the ball that way in the big leagues, not too many people do it. And to be able to do it on the pitches that he does, it was a slider. Just to be able to stay on the ball and trust your plan and then put a swing like that on it, it’s pretty impressive.”
Zimmerman later added another impressive piece of hitting. As he walked out of the dugout to lead off the fifth, Johnson said, Zimmerman turned to his teammates and said, “He’s going to throw me a fastball in. And I’m going to hit it out of the ballpark.”
Leake threw Zimmerman one slider for a strike, and then there it was — a fastball inside. Zimmerman turned on it and crushed it down the left field line. The ball landed four or five rows shy of the concourse behind the seats.
Afterward, Zimmerman sheepishly said: “If Davey said I did it, then I might have. But I don’t know. We’ll see.” Johnson had no problem explaining.
“He said he’s going to hit a bomb,” Johnson said. “I guess the guy was throwing fastballs in early in the count. He said, ‘When he does that, I’m just going to hit it out of the ballpark.’ It didn’t surprise any of us.”
After Zimmerman circled the bases, the first face that greeted him was that of Morse, the cleanup hitter. Johnson had moved him there immediately after he took over as manager. Zimmerman can see him staying there for several years to come. The Nationals can, too.
“He’s been really consistent all year,” Johnson said. “Even since I’ve been here, he hasn’t had even, really, a bad day. I don’t know where we’d be without him.”