Ryan Zimmerman was struggling to play through a shoulder injury and hitting just .218 with three homers and a .590 OPS in 55 games through June 23.
The next day the Nationals third baseman got a cortisone injection in his shoulder and since then he’s been on fire.
Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com broke down the numbers and they’re amazing: Since the cortisone injection Zimmerman is hitting .339 with 19 homers, 21 doubles, and a 1.021 OPS in 72 games.
One of the worst hitters in baseball before the cortisone injection and one of the best hitters in baseball since the cortisone injection, which is doubly remarkable considering at the time doctors told Zimmerman that they weren’t sure how much good the shot would do on his shoulder.
Looking back on it now, here’s what Zimmerman told Zuckerman:
I’m OK with the slow starts, but not being able to swing the bat and do the things health-wise, I was worried about that. Because I know my body pretty well. Everyone in this room plays hurt. Everyone in every locker room. Nobody’s healthy. And I’ve played hurt a lot just like everyone else. But it was a different kind of feeling. It made me nervous.
That was a trying time, I guess you could say. That was about as tough a six-week stretch as I’ve ever had in my career. To be able to look up there now and know I’ve been able to battle back from that–and more importantly, can actually help the team win now–I’m pretty proud of it.
Cortisone shots for everyone!
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.