Postmortem on Zimmerman's Streak
Ryan Zimmerman's hitting streak was halted at 30 games on Wednesday, although he has quickly started a new streak by hitting successfully in his first two games back at Nationals Park. Before Friday's game, Zimmerman and others reflected on the memorable streak.
Among the sentiments:
--- Zimmerman said he never put too much stock into the hitting streak and only felt pressure in the final at bat in San Francisco. But he did hope to return to Washington with the streak in tact and provide Nationals fans with an opportunity to enjoy it.
"Realistically, did I think I was going to get close? Probably not," Zimmerman said. "But I wanted to do it for everyone else more than me. I think that more people had fun watching and following it than I was having doing it. I enjoy playing every day, whether I'm 0 for 30 or 50 for 100."
The West Coast road trip wore on the Nationals. Zimmerman remarked to Acta late in the road trip how excited he was to return home.
"He was feeling it himself," Acta said. "He was telling me - nothing about the streak - but it feels like we've been away for a long, the show was on the road for long, and we wanted our own fans to experience the streak."
--- The streak was good for the Nationals, too. Zimmerman and Acta both mentioned how the publicity the streak generated allowed the Nationals to enjoy the spotlight.
"Any time the time with the worst record is the lead on SportsCenter every night, it's kind of fun," Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman also said he learned from the increased exposure. He made sure not to slip from his routine. He admitted in past seasons, he occasionally strayed from schedule. That is no longer the case. Mechanically, he credited new hitting coach Rick Eckstein. The lineup support aided him. Much is made about Adam Dunn hitting behind Zimmerman, but he said Nick Johnson does not receive enough credit for the work Johnson does front of Zimmerman.
--- Acta and Phillies Manger Charlie Manuel both noted that the most impressive part of the streak were the quality at-bats Zimmerman put together.
"It was not like getting one hit or getting an infield single or blooper on his last at bat," Acta said. "This guy was having quality at bats day in and day out, and smoking the ball. It was fun, half of the time he took off the pressure from him and the whole time by getting it done on the first at bat. We appreciate the fact that he never went out of his way to keep the streak going. When he had to take a walk, he took a walk."
Zimmerman had multi-hit games in 15 of the 30 games during the streak. He said you could tell he is hitting well when he connects to the right-center field gap.
--- Zimmerman was left with more respect for Joe DiMaggio lasting 56 games. He said DiMaggio's hitting streak and Cal Ripken Jr.'s consecutive games streak are the two most difficult to break.
"It shows you how ridiculous 56 games is," Zimmerman said. "It involves so many variables. You need luck. It's just so hard to put four good at bats together on the same night. The guy on the mound - especially in this division - you got good pitchers every night. Not that you don't in every division, but you're going to run into a Santana, a Josh Johnson, a Cole Hamels or a Zito, it's amazing for [DiMaggio] to put together that many good games in a row."
Manuel was tracking Zimmerman during the hitting streak. Manuel said it is more difficult to hit in 56 consecutive games in today's game because pitchers are not afraid to walk batters. He said in DiMaggio's day, pitchers were mocked when they allowed a player a free base.
Even with that admission, Manuel opined that DiMaggio's record would be broken.
"There will be more high-talented offensive players, especially guys who can run," Manuel said. Guys like that can come along, and the way pitching is now, bats are harder, balls are definitely harder."
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