During batting practice, third base coach Bo Porter told Brown that Harper had been feeling sick — the bug that had caused Harper to vomit since Thursday wouldn’t go away. About 45 minutes before first pitch, Porter told he was in the lineup against soft-tossing lefty Randy Wolf. Brown, whom the Nationals acquired in December 2010 as part of the trade that sent Josh Willingham to Oakland, would make the second start of his major league career.
“It wasn’t anything I had to change to get ready,” Brown said. “In my shoes, you got to ready at any second to get in there and help the team.”
After a trying 2011, in which he battled injury and the pressure of trying to impress a new team, Brown performed like a new player this season. At one point, he blasted a homer in six straight games. He earned his way back to the majors for a stint in May, and again this week when Ian Desmond landed on the disabled list.
Brown had collected an RBI on a suicide squeeze bunt, but when he dug into the box to lead off the fourth inning Saturday, he still sought his first career hit, stuck on 0 for 11, trying not feel antsy at the plate. “The toughest part is to relax and accept your surroundings,” Brown said.
Against Wolf, Brown reached a 1-1 count. Wolf spun a 69-mph slider. Brown hung back, waiting long enough to drill the ball deep to the opposite field. Braun drifted back in left field and watched the ball fly over the electronic scoreboard display on the fence, which showed Brown’s mug shot next to his batting average: .000. Brown broke into a smile as he rounded second base.
“All I wanted to get that first one of the way,” Brown said. “Get the weight off my shoulders. I’m sure everyone at home is excited. I’m sure my mom is crying still.”
The Nationals piled on, even as Michael Morse was thrown out at home plate to stifle a rally. Moore clobbered a two-run homer to left field, his sixth this year. Zimmerman mashed his 15th homer to center field, which the Nationals’ pitching made to seem purely cosmetic.
From the dugout, Zimmermann watched Drew Storen, Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard dominate the final innings. Zimmermann jerseys and red T-shirts dotted the sellout crowd. In the Nationals’ clubhouse, Zimmermann noted many of them been there since 3 p.m. “I’m sure they’re all feeling pretty good right now,” he said.