Ryan Zimmerman became the Nationals’ franchise leader in career hits with an RBI single in the first inning of Tuesday’s 25-4 obliteration of the Mets, but his two plate appearances in the eighth inning were much more memorable.
With the Mets trailing, 19-1, and not interested in burning any more relievers, Manager Mickey Callaway tapped shortstop Jose Reyes to make his pitching debut. The 35-year-old Reyes didn’t fare well, but he managed to provide a few laughs, including after he wound up to throw his first pitch before Zimmerman had even stepped into the batter’s box.
After taking a strike, Zimmerman sent Reyes’s second offering to the warning track in right-center field. The Nationals’ first baseman grinned as he returned to the dugout. Reyes smiled, too, for his ERA was a sparkling 0.00. That wouldn’t last.
The Nationals tagged Reyes for six runs on five hits in the inning and batted around, giving Zimmerman another chance with two outs and Wilmer Difo on third base following an RBI triple.
As Reyes’s teammates giggled from the top step of the dugout, Zimmerman swung through a couple of curveballs in his second plate appearance against the veteran shortstop. After Zimmerman fouled off another slow offering, Reyes “plunked” Zimmerman’s left leg with a 54 mph curveball that didn’t curve and probably didn’t leave a mark.
Zimmerman stood frozen for a moment, looked up, wiggled his butt and then faked as if he were about to charge the mound before flashing a huge smile and walking to first base. Reyes just stood in front of the rubber with his head tilted and one hand on his hip.
“Jose’s probably saying, ‘Please charge, maybe we both can get thrown out,’ ” Ron Darling joked on the Mets’ SNY broadcast.
“When you get on the mound, before you throw a pitch, it’s fun,” Reyes, who got Juan Soto to fly out to retire the side, said after the game. “But when you start to see people hit a homer and stuff, you get more serious. Even though I’m not a pitcher, I don’t want to see that. I want to throw zeros out there, but like I said, I did the best that I can.”
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