The Washington Nationals defeated the New York Mets 2-1 on a big night from first-baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who homered to left and made a pair of big plays defensively to give pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals their first win of the season.
First-baseman Ryan Zimmerman is a phrase that will take some getting used to in Washington, but the former Gold Glove third-basemen looked right at home Wednesday night against a familiar foe in the New York Mets.
Zimmerman dove headfirst to snag a miscued bunt popped up by Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom with one out and two runners on in the top of the second. He also speared a grounder heading for the gap between first and second hot off the bat of Curtis Granderson to prevent the Mets’ leadoff man from getting on base in the top of the eighth.
Zimmerman, unable to get his worn-down throwing shoulder back in shape, spent parts of last season in left field when he was able to play. With Adam Laroche hitting the road in the offseason, the Nationals moved their longest tenured player to first base. Zimmerman made the adjustment look easy Wednesday night
“That’s something we missed all of last year almost,” Bryce Harper, who is also adjusting well to his new position in right field, said of Zimmerman’s presence in the lineup per the Washington Post.
“[Zimmerman] put a good swing on that ball and put us ahead 2-0, that was a game-changer. We won the ballgame because of that,” Harper said.
Zimmerman’s move to first not only provides the Nationals with Gold Glove caliber defense at the first base position but also gives needed room in the outfield for budding prospects like Michael Taylor, who started in the absence of Jayson Werth and Denard Span and went 1-4 with a double as the Nats’ leadoff man.
Taylor flashed brilliant potential towards the end of last season but will have to learn to be more patient if he wants to hit at the top of the order. He saw just eight pitches in his four at-bats Wednesday night.
But when Taylor makes contact, the ball jumps off his bat somewhat reminiscent of the pop generated by Anthony Rendon, who is week-to-week with a knee injury but will take over the third base position when healthy.
The rubber match between the Nationals (1-1) and the Mets (1-1) takes place Thursday with the first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Mets ace Matt Harvey will make his return from Tommy John surgery to take the mound against Stephen Strasburg in Washington.