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Two Heinies, Two Zimmermans, One Willingham

A very small sample of unscientific evidence suggests that NJ-related hype of Ryan Zimmerman's hitting streak does not provoke curses -- in fact, we may have a reverse-curse power -- so I hesitate not for even a moment to mention some entertaining hitting streak notes. Also, we have an excuse to mention Heinie Zimmerman here for the second time today. Zimmerman last appeared in a major league game in 1919.

Anyway, Zimmerman (the current one) has a hitting streak of 19 games. The last hitting streak of 20 or more games courtesy of a DC-based big leaguer was Mickey Vernon's 20-game streak from May 3-27, 1953. But, in the modern baseball era, the longest DC hitting streak was notched by Heinie Manush, who in 1933 hit in 33 consecutive games.

Now, here's where Heinie Zimmerman (no relation to Ryan or Manush) comes in. Heinie Zimmerman happens to have the longest hitting streak (23 games -- 1912) ever recorded by a player whose last name begins with "Z."

So. Looks like we have our storylines for the next few days.

Now, a few other notes...


*

Pinch-hitting is hard to accept and hard to master; if nothing else, Josh Willingham has handled the first part. The Washington Nationals' outfielder, accustomed to regular at bats, has spent the first month of the season dealing with a lessened role. The experience has forced him to readjust his approach and his expectations. It's also focused his appreciation for pinch hitting -- and for those who do it well.

"It's harder to come off the bench," Willingham said. "It's a difficult job. That's why people who are good at it stick around the game for a long time."

For now, the Nationals are judging Willingham more by his attitude than by his numbers. Entering this year, 25 of his 1,422 at bats had come as a pinch hitter. In April, he pinch-hit seven times. He started just eight games, as Manager Manny Acta fought to find space for him in a crowded outfield. Today, he's on the bench for the fourth time in five games. Typically dependent on regular at bats to feel comfortable, Willingham is 5-for-35 (.143) with one homer and two RBI.

Still, Willingham has committed himself to learning the pinch-hitting art. He studies more video of relief pitchers. He tries to judge himself on the quality of his at bats, not necessarily the results.

"Yeah, it tells you a lot about a guy," Acta said. "It tells you that the guy accepted the role and is committed to do whatever it takes to be good at it. Because a lot of guys would just shrug it off and say, 'I haven't done this.' They don't work as hard to prepare. But this guy, he's in the game."

Willingham figure pinch-hitting will hinder his stats. You come off the bench cold. You don't get the chance to see pitchers for a second or third time in a game. There's a reason that, in 2008, major league hitters combined for a .264 average. Pinch hitters combined for a .232 average.

"It's one of those things where it looks like I'll be coming off the bench a lot, so I'm going to have to get used to it," Willingham said. "I don't have any excuses for hitting .140 or .130, whatever I'm hitting. Shoot, everybody likes to play and get at bats, but if I don't get that I have to be ready to come in and get a game-winning hit off the bench."

*

Though an opt-out clause allowed Josh Bard the chance to become a free agent today, the catcher, demoted to Class AAA Syracuse on April 19, has elected to remain with the organization. Bard will continue to catch with Syracuse, where so far he is 4-for-15 (.267) in five games.

*

Just a little lineup change to note for St. Louis: Yadier Molina is catching tonight, not Jason LaRue.

By Chico Harlan  |  May 1, 2009; 6:55 PM ET
 
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Next: Cards 6, Nats 2: A Few Post-Game Notes

Comments

Zzzzzz

I think I am Z-d out

Posted by: paulkp | May 1, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm torn on Bard's decision not to invoke the "opt-out"; It keeps him in the orginization, but might force a "ripple" effect in the minors. Don't know whether that will be a good or bad thing.

Posted by: BinM | May 1, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Acta, Rizzo, Kasten: terminated soon I think.

Posted by: periculum | May 1, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Grab a Heinie. I know I did. I think Wellemeyer's pitches are numbered. As long as they wait him out.

Posted by: Brue | May 1, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

What the Nationals could use is a version of the old "Kangaroo Court", where guys get "fined" for doing stupid stuff, like hitting into an out on the 1st pitch they see in an AB, getting picked off 2nd, walking the pitcher, etc. The O's used to do it w/FRobby, Elrod & Brooks presiding, just to keep players loose & thinking about playing smart baseball. The Nats could run it with guys like Dunn/RZim/Harris/Rivera sitting in judgement.

Posted by: BinM | May 1, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Is Zimmerman also on a hitting into double play streak? I guess it's a good thing because it means there are men on base in front of him, but still.

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | May 1, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Dukes is a poor base runner. this team doesn't even understand the fundamentals of baseball. this team is a joke, I say that all the time but it's true.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 1, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

The answer to my question - No.

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | May 1, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Beimel got torched in his rehab start in Potomac

1IP 7H 5R 0BB 0K

Posted by: Brian_ | May 1, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Great... looks like Beimel just officially became a reliever for our Nats

Posted by: HotNats | May 1, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Question: I'm suddenly getting both Carpenter/Dibble and a Spanish broadcast at the same time on MASN... anyone else experiencing the simultaneous multi-cultural cast? Maybe I errantly hit the SAP button...

Posted by: HotNats | May 1, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

No, I'm getting the Espanol too. Major improvement over MASN, esp Carpenter.

Posted by: jrm212k | May 1, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Los Nacionales son un equipo de béisbol desgraciado.

Posted by: Brian_ | May 1, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

¡Si, es verdad, Brian! (That's the extent of my Español) Nice triple (again) Flores, let's get something going here fer chrissakes, please

Posted by: HotNats | May 1, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

WILLIE!!!!!

Posted by: HotNats | May 1, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Willie Harris for player-manager.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | May 1, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Shocker... Cintron Ks.

Posted by: HotNats | May 1, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Both Cintron and Saul need to go asap!

Posted by: FloresFan | May 1, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Hanrahan in, I'm out.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | May 1, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Well, I'll be damned, Homerunahan's actually pitching pretty well (against the 8-9 batters, sure, but still)

Posted by: HotNats | May 1, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

No walks, ten strikeouts for the Nats pitchers tonight. But they're going to lose anyway.

Posted by: natteringnabob | May 1, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Manny: tick...tick...tick...tick

Posted by: jdschulz50 | May 1, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

No errors either, but yep we lost again.
Bright spot: Zim's at 20

Posted by: HotNats | May 1, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

I was getting the Spanish language broadcast as well. I think it must have been the Cardinals guys as they seemed to be very excited about their hitting prowess. Call example:

HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOME
RUUUUUUUUUUUN!!

Also, Dibble says that the curse is Teddy not winning. I concur.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 1, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Actually (unbridled optimism alert) I'm kind of surprised we're only 8.5 out in the NL East. Feels like we should be 35...

Posted by: HotNats | May 1, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Again another bonehead baserunning move by Elijah when the players don't fear any repercussions you do what you want i can hear Manny now "thats all right E its okay to make the first out of an inning even though you got a leadoff double and we were trailing 3-0 even though the ball was hit right in front of you it takes us out of a potential run scoring inning don't worry about it bro we'll be just fine" you think his teamates are fine with "E" doing his thing i doubt it and Manny shouldn't either, he needs to ride the pine, Manny needs to make an example of Dukes but its too late for that because Manny wants to be your friend losing baseball and all.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 1, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

I've wondered on here before whether the Nats still had a kangaroo court. They've had one with at least some of the recent Nats teams, if I recall correctly.

The pitching and defense were better, as noted above. Offense, not so much, although how about that Flores?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 1, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

I concur as well, natsfan, I also concur with a number of people that they should drop all the "How will Teddy lose tonight, oboy oboy oboy" shtick and make it an actual race every evening... (On that front, I'm still annoyed that they announce the race as the "main event"... though, given the gameplay (so to speak) of our current team, they're not far off)

Posted by: HotNats | May 1, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

This should have come yesterday but it's been eating at me - when will Daniel Cabrera be sent down to AA? Bring Ross Detwiler up to AAA and Colin Balester up to the Nats! The season's pretty much over so why not experiment and get Balester some big league opportunities?

Posted by: tengoalyrunr30 | May 1, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Actually (unbridled optimism alert) I'm kind of surprised we're only 8.5 out in the NL East. Feels like we should be 35...

Posted by: HotNats |

We will.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | May 1, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

5-17

Posted by: Brue | May 1, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Frustrating, frustrating, frustrating.
I hate to see them lose games over and over at home. The few fans who are coming out will soon quit coming. It stinks.

Go Nats!

Turn it around tomorrow. Don't stop believing.

Posted by: usmc53 | May 1, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

>Turn it around tomorrow. Don't stop believing.

I'll be there on Sunday. I'm going to a Caps viewing party tomorrow afternoon. By Sunday it'll be 5-18. Which will make them two weeks under .500 -

Posted by: Brue | May 1, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

"There's a reason that, in 2008, major league hitters combined for a .264 average. Pinch hitters combined for a .232 average."

It's simpler than being cold or not getting a second or third look. They're not as good as the starters, else they would be, you know, starting.

Posted by: del_b_vista | May 2, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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