Results tagged ‘ home run ’

The key to Zimmerman’s power surge

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

When Ryan Zimmerman woke up on September 1, he had hit 15 home runs in 121 games this season.

When he woke up Saturday morning, he had hit nine home runs — in the first two weeks of the month.

Just how remarkable is this recent surge? In his past 11 games, Zimmerman has as many dingers as he had in June, July and August combined. He has already tied the club record for most homers in the month of September. Nine of his past 14 hits have left the park.

His explanation?

“I don’t know,” he said Friday night. “Just going with it. Come here and I do the same stuff I did all year. And that’s the way I’ve done it for years. Every now and then I get hot. Hopefully, I just try and kind of ride it as long as it will go and don’t try and think about it too much.”

Manager Davey Johnson, however, offered a more interesting explanation. In addition to Zimmerman’s improved performance in the field, the 70-year-old skipper attributed this recent performance to a change in batting practice.

About three weeks ago, Johnson noticed that Zimmerman was pulling the ball in BP. He was peppering hits to left field. Johnson likes to see hitters pull the ball and attack pitches on the inside part of the plate. He believes that this change in Zimmerman’s batting practice has spilled over to games.

And he might be right. Of Zimmerman’s nine home runs this month, seven have been to left or left-center field, one to straightaway center, and one to right.

“[This season] they’ve been getting him out early throwing him down and in, inside,” Johnson explained. “Now he’s hammering that ball. So I like it.”

Ian Desmond said the surge could be the result of mere inches in Zimmerman’s swing.

“I mean, this is the crazy thing about baseball,” Desmond said. “He’s been hitting low line drives that have been hard ground balls, low hard ground balls that if you’re one grain up turn into home runs. And now it’s happening.

“This game, you are what you are, and by the end of the day, we might look up and Zim might have 30 [homers] and 100 [RBI]. That is who he is.”

Span’s home run drought finally ends

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

It took 105 games, but Nationals center fielder Denard Span finally hit a home run in Saturday’s 4-1 victory over the Mets.

After Ian Desmond hit a two-out bomb in the second inning, Span followed with a homer of his own on the very next pitch. The ball flew high into the air and barely cleared the right field wall.

“He swung at the first pitch. We all about fell out on the bench,” manager Davey Johnson joked.

Johnson said that batting Span seventh has allowed the center fielder to be more aggressive at the plate, and Span agreed. He said that instead of taking pitches and getting a feel for the opposing pitcher, he can instead concentrate on getting a good pitch and putting it in play.

“By the time I get up there, I’ve already seen six guys hit,” Span explained. “So, I already have a good idea of what that pitcher’s doing. When I get up there, if they’re going to throw me a first-pitch fastball, I’m going to swing. It’s different when I’m leading off, I try to see as many pitches as possible but hitting seventh there’s really no rules.”

As Span’s home run cleared the wall, he cruised around the bases, basking in the glory of his first home run in 422 plate appearances this season.

“Felt good to get the monkey off my back,” he said, smiling. “It hasn’t taken this long to hit a home run in a while. Probably since A-ball. But it felt good.

“My home run trot was definitely a little rusty. I think I stutter-stepped around third. I was just trying not to fall.”

Span touched home plate and jogged to the dugout, where he exchanged some emphatic high fives with teammates.

“Denard’s got some pop, so it was good to see him do that,” Bryce Harper said. “Hopefully he doesn’t get too cocky and stay a little humble.”

“I tell you what, after hitting one today it felt like I might hit 30 for the rest of the season,” Span said jokingly. “So you guys watch out for me.”

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