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Nationals-Braves: Ryan Zimmerman Caps Perfect Night for Washington

Rich TandlerSenior Analyst IMarch 31, 2008

Bloggers are supposed to voice a different take on events, to look at events from different angles and reward their readers with a different point of view

Sometimes, however, this is impossible.

There is no other way to discuss Ryan Zimmerman’s game-winning home run against the Braves than the take given by the Post, the Times, the AP, Bill Ladson, Nationals Inquisition, or anyplace else.


Some air came out of the balloon in Nationals Park when a passed ball allowed the Braves to tie the game in the top of the ninth. After Christian Guzman and Lastings Milledge became the 23rd and 24th consecutive Nationals batters retired by Braves pitchers it seemed like it would be a long, cold night going multiple extra frames.

But the next batter was Zimmerman, who has a flair for coming through in clutch situations on special occasions. He had 18 game-winning hits in 2007 (accounting for nearly 25 percent of the team’s wins) including a number of walk-off jobs. There was hope, I thought as I stood on a landing halfway between the upper and lower decks at Nationals Park watching Zimmerman come up to bat.

As the ball left his bat it immediately was apparent that it was over the center fielder’s head. The only question was whether or not it would make its way out of the park.

It did, with a few feet to spare as the truly lucky fan in the first row of the Red Porch snagged quite the souvenir.

As I was heading to the exits and to the Metro station, I thought back to the opening of FedEx Field in 1997. The Redskins’ opponent was the Arizona Cardinals and, like the Braves, the Cards tallied a late score to knot a game that the Skins had led most of the way.

All was well, though, as Gus Frerotte threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Michael Westbrook early in overtime and the Redskins won 19-13.

Frerotte turned out to be little more than a journeyman QB and Westbrook, of course, was a major bust. It looks like Zimmerman is headed in a much more positive direction in his career than either of those two.

Zimmerman wasn’t the only hero yesterday. Odalis Perez deserved to get the win after allowing just one run over five innings.

Nick Johnson tallied the first RBI with a hustle double in the first inning. The extra base he took with two outs became critical as Austin Kearns singled him home to give Washington a 2-0 lead.

Kearns made a great play off the right field fence on Brian McCann’s scorching liner and easily threw out the batter (with help from a quick relay by Ronnie Belliard) as he tried to make it into second base.

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at rich.tandler@gmail.com. His Nationals archive, including his live blog from Nationals Park Sunday night, is located here.

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