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Top o' the Hill

A headline writer's dream, this guy. Without further ado, Hill's line (he just came out for a pinch hitter):

5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB (both in first inning), 4 K

His spring ERA is now 1.29 (14 IP/2 ER). He appears healthy. He just needs to carry this into the regular season (and get rid of that shaky first inning, which could have cost him dearly).

Meanwhile, Nationals use a double to the right-center gap from Dmitri Young (pulling away?) and a bloop single from Snelling and a sacrifice bunt from Brito and a walk to pinch-hitter Michael Restovich to load the bases against Hill. That puts Felipe Lopez (spring average coming into this game: .152) in a position to drive in some runs.

Which, on cue, he does. Or at least one. A sharply hit fly ball to center that brought home Young and give the Nationals a 1-0 lead. And then ... OK, let me get to something I've been sitting on for, oh, maybe four hours. Cristian Guzman came to the plate. He hit a hard single to left that drove in Snelling and drove Wolf from the game, giving the Nationals a 2-0 lead.

But I was hanging around the batting cage earlier today (it's kind of like hanging out at that cool kids' bank of lockers in junior high) and a very respected person, upon my asking about how Guzman was swinging the bat, said, "Best I've seen him." I said that seemed about right. Then he said, "More power than I thought. He should hit more than 25 doubles this year."

In his lost 2005, Guzman managed 19 doubles for the Nationals. He has hit 25 or more four times, so I guess it's reasonable. His career-high, twice, is 31.

I've said it all spring (though probably not in this forum): He's the only guy in baseball who could hit .250 and be considered something of a hero, because we know -- oh, how we know -- how bad he can be.

Anyway, all that brought Zim to the plate (debate in my head as to whether it's "Zim" or "Zimm," as I've been writing "Zim" but I got a text msg last night from a player that had "Zim") and he did what .457 hitters do -- singled in a run off Rudy Seanez (ugh). Kearns grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning.

After five: Nationals 3, Dodgers 0

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 19, 2007; 2:17 PM ET
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Do you usually take your spelling cues from players' text messages?

Posted by: Chris | March 19, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I take what I can get.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | March 19, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Like I've been saying about Guzman since we signed him:

"I believe"

Posted by: Paul | March 19, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

The Nats could be an interesting team to watch in September... not because they'll be contending, but because with the call-ups, we might get the first glimpse at a contending team. Days like today (so far) give us hope.

Posted by: wigi | March 19, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Barry, can you please tell the radio guys from LA that it's Nook, as in Nookie, not Nuke, as in Nuke-u-lar. It's driving me nuts. Thanks!

Posted by: NUKE-u-lar | March 19, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

What about "Z-Man"?

Posted by: Adam | March 19, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone ever noticed that Zimm (i prefer the double "m") seems to be clutch almost to the exclusion. If there's a man on 2nd and down by one i dont know if ive ever seen him get out. 2 outs bottom 9, the ball is gone no question. He can hit a double to the gap to tie a game without batting an eyelash.

However, if it doesnt really matter, ive seen him sluggishly ground out on poor swings, strike out looking, or hit lazy fly balls. He was the best hitter through most of last year with runners in scoring position (hence 110 rbi on a weak offensive team) But without hit much much lower...

Just an observation made by me/my family, you wont find bigger zimmerman fans around

he's pretty good

Posted by: Rob | March 19, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse

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