Ryan Zimmerman has punished plenty of Marlins’ pitchers during his 13-year career.
He hadn’t done much damage yet this season, however.
Then Wednesday night happened.
Zimmerman smacked a pair of home runs and fell a triple short of a cycle, going 4 for 4 with five RBI as the Nationals hammered Marlins’ pitching all night on their way to a 10-1 victory.
Zimmerman entered the game with only two homers and a .195 average in 41 at-bats against the Marlins this season.
But with a solo home run in the second off Marlins starter Adam Conley, Zimmerman was back in regular form.
“We’ve seen him early in the year, he was really rolling,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “I think we caught him in Miami last time, didn’t seem good, but that’s just the way seasons go. But tonight, really sharp again.”
Zimmerman increased his all-time home run total against the Marlins to 33 – his most against any team.
Conley endured his worst start since returning from the minors last month, matching a career-worst 11 hits allowed and five runs on 94 pitches.
“That pitch I wasn’t happy about,” Conley said. “I wasn’t in good command of my slider there, but in another at-bat I threw a fastball about eight inches off the ground that he hit through the hole for a hit. The guy had a great day. Sometimes it happens. These guys are the best players in the world. It won’t stop me from trying to get better and being more prepared to not let it happen the next time.”
Marlins’ bench coach Tim Wallach watched from the opposite dugout as Zimmerman’s home run broke allowed him to break his franchise record for most career RBI of 905, he set while playing for the Montreal Expos from 1980-1992.
“We talked about intentionally walking somebody to not let him drive it in earlier,” Mattingly joked. “But figured he’d get it at some point. It’s good that Wally got a little recognition tonight.”
The bullpen didn’t fare well either with Hunter Cervenka allowing two more runs and recently recalled Javy Guerra surrendering three more in his Marlins debut, including Zimmerman’s second homer in the seventh inning.
Nationals’ starter Gio Gonzalez didn’t flirt with a no-hitter as he did the last time he faced the Marlins on July 31. But the Hialeah-born Gonzalez posted another stellar outing, surrendering only one run on seven hits and striking out six with no walks.
“A lot more of the same [from Gio],” Mattingly said. “It seemed like we had him on the ropes just a little bit. Adam throws a zero and we come back, top of our order, and I think he throws a seven-pitch inning at us and that kind of stung.”
Ichiro Suzuki, who started his second consecutive game as Mattingly gave his regular outfielders some rest, drove in the Marlins’ lone run in the fourth with a single that scored Derek Dietrich.
Ichiro, who has started only 17 games this season, picked up his first three-hit game of the season when he picked up two more singles in the seventh and ninth innings.
“He’s just a player,” Mattingly said. “It’s fun to watch him do his work.”