Zimmerman goes deep thrice against Orioles
Two-run shot in fifth give Nats third baseman first career three-homer effort
BALTIMORE -- Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman had a career day at Camden Yards on Wednesday night in Washington's 9-6 loss, hitting home runs in each of his first three at-bats against the Orioles.
It marked the first time Zimmerman has hit three home runs in a game and third time in Nationals history that a player has accomplished the feat. Prior to Zimmerman, the last player to hit three home runs in a game was Adam Dunn, who hit three against the Padres in 2010.
"Big players step up when the team needs him," Ian Desmond said about Zimmerman. "I think he understands what's going on with our team. I think he feels inside he needs to carry some of the weight. That's what superstars do. He is definitely that. He has turned it up a notch."
All three home runs by Zimmerman were hit off right-hander Chris Tillman. In first inning, Zimmerman swung at a 2-2 pitch and hit the ball over the left-center-field wall.
Three innings later, after Roger Bernadina clubbed a home run, Zimmerman followed with a blast over the center-field fence.
In the fifth, after Danny Espinosa came home on a Denard Span double, Zimmerman did it again with a two-run homer to right field to make it a 6-2 game.
"The way the ball took off his bat, I definitely knew that it was going to be a home run," Span said.
Zimmerman had a chance to hit his fourth home run of the game against reliever Steve Johnson, but Zimmerman struck out looking to end the seventh inning. Zimmerman said he didn't think about hitting a homer once he stepped into the batter's box.
"It's tough to have a night like that and not be able to celebrate and have fun with it, because we lost," Zimmerman said. "I've been swinging the bat better, and tonight everything came together in one game. Hopefully, we can keep swinging the bats like we have the last few days. We know our pitching is good enough. If we score that many runs, we are going to win more than we lose."
Desmond brought up that Wednesday was World MS Day, a day where people raise the awareness about Multiple Sclerosis, an illness that has hit close to home for Zimmerman. His mother, Cheryl, was diagnosed with MS in 1995. Zimmerman established the ziMS foundation, which is dedicated to the treatment and ultimate cure of Multiple Sclerosis.
Desmond found it touching that Zimmerman hit three home runs on a day that people raise awareness about the disease.
"For someone that has such an impact in that field and does so much charitable things for it, I think for him to step up today, I think there is a sign from God," Desmond said. "Ryan delivered, and that means a lot to a lot of people."
Zimmerman got off to slow start to start the season. But in his last 24 games, he is 30-for-88 (.341), with five home runs and 17 RBIs. For the season, Zimmerman is hitting .298 with six home runs and 28 RBIs.
"Early on in the season, he had some adversity. But he battled through it -- the shoulder, the media, his own doubts, I'm sure." Desmond said. "But he battled through it. Now no one is talking about that stuff anymore."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.