Nats' offense, Zimmermann steamroll Twins
Lineup produced 14 hits, while righty fanned eight over seven frames
WASHINGTON -- It's safe to say that manager Davey Johnson wasn't frustrated during Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader between the Twins and Nationals on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park. The Nationals' offense came back to life, as it collected 14 hits and pounded the Twins, 7-0, to snap a two-game losing streak.
Johnson held a team meeting before the game, telling his position players to be more aggressive at the plate, relax and have fun. There wasn't an angry tone in his voice as he was talking to his players. It was like a grandfather talking to his grandchildren.
"It wasn't much of a speech. It was story time," right-hander Jordan Zimmermann said. "I guess it got us going. We got a good win today."
"I would have the meeting every day, if we would get 14 hits and seven runs," Johnson joked. "But it wasn't much of a meeting. I was just cheering them up. I don't get mad at those guys."
It looked like it might be one of those games Johnson would like to forget, for second baseman Anthony Rendon didn't catch a routine popup because he didn't have his sunglasses on in the third inning.
"Anthony just didn't have his glasses on, but he had his hitting glasses on. ... No big deal," Johnson said.
"It didn't go in my glove. [The miscue] just happened," said Rendon. "But the only spot that sun was out, the ball happened to go there. I just missed it."
In the bottom of the inning, Jeff Kobernus made a baserunning blunder. After Kobernus reached first on an infield single, his first big league hit, Steve Lombardozzi flied out to center field. Instead of looking at the flight of the ball, Kobernus was looking at third-base coach Trent Jewett and was easily doubled off first base.
"I don't get too upset when we are overly aggressive," said Johnson. "[Kobernus] didn't pick up the ball off the bat. It was a hit and run."
But the Nationals were able to get their act together against left-hander Scott Diamond in the fourth inning. With runners on second and third and two outs, Rendon reached base on an infield single, which allowed Adam LaRoche to score. Ian Desmond scored the second run when shortstop Pedro Florimon made a throwing error trying to get Rendon at first base.
Washington then broke it open by scoring five more runs in the fifth inning. Desmond and Rendon highlighted the scoring by driving in two runs with a single and a double, respectively.
"It was definitely a frustrating way to have the game turn out. I thought I was executing pretty well," Diamond said. "I thought the curveball was better than it's been. I was able to throw some pretty good changeups. So that outcome stinks. I'm pretty frustrated with the way it went."
Zimmermann (9-3) proved once again that he is the ace of the Nationals' staff this year. He pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out eight.
"It means I'm pitching pretty well, I'm going deep in the ballgame," Zimmermann said. "I'm giving the team a chance. For the most part, they have scored quite a few runs for me. Hopefully, we can get another win tonight."
Zimmermann pitched despite having neck issues. He needed a heating pad on his neck before the game because it started to tighten up on him during the last couple of days. Zimmermann had neck issues a few weeks ago, too.
"I just put a little heat on it to warm it up," said Zimmermann. "Right away, [Johnson] asked if I was going to be all right and I said, 'I'll be fine.' He was a little concerned."
With the victory, the Nationals moved to 30-31 for the season.