USA Today Sports Photos
Ryan Zimmmerman is greeted after hitting one of his three homers last night.
Zimmerman's evening, though, was completely overshadowed by the Nationals' late meltdown against the Orioles during what became an incredibly disheartening 9-6 loss at Camden Yards. Because of that, the veteran third baseman couldn't take much joy in his individual performance.
"It's tough to have a night like that and not be able to kinda celebrate it and have fun, because we lost," he said. "But I've been swinging the bat better, and it came together in one game."
Indeed, it's rare for anybody to hit three homers and still lose. It's only happened 87 times in modern history, though it happened to Miguel Cabrera only 11 days ago. (How'd you like to be Bob Horner, the only man ever to homer four times in a losing effort?)
Game result aside, Zimmerman's accomplishment last night shouldn't be overlooked. He had been swinging a hot bat for three weeks, but he'd yet to put on a real power display. Despite hitting .357 over a 19-game stretch from May 9-28, his slugging percentage during that span was a solid-but-not-spectacular .486.
Zimmerman wasn't worried about whether his power stroke would eventually return.
"I've been hitting the ball well the last couple weeks," he said. "Like you said, I haven't really had much power or damage to show for it. But you gotta start before you gradually build up."
What really stood out about last night's home run display: Zimmerman hit one to each field. He homered to the back bullpen in left-center. He homered straight over the center-field fence. And he homered just next to the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center.
He stepped to the plate in the top of the seventh with a chance to really do something special: Hit his fourth homer of the game, something done only 14 times in baseball history. Alas, he struck out looking at an outside fastball from reliever Tommy Hunter.
"I knew I had three home runs," he said. "I wasn't trying to hit four home runs. The whole day, and really the last couple weeks, I've been trying to hit the ball hard. I've always been told that if you hit the ball hard, good things will happen. Lately, it's been good. Before that, it's been a little bit of a scuffle. Unfortunately that happens a lot in the beginning of the years for me. Tonight was good."
Individually for Zimmerman, yes. Collectively for the Nationals, no.