Nationals Magic Number provides daily updates as the Washington Nationals try to win their division. Today’s magic number for the Nats to clinch the N.L. East: 9
What else is 9: Being a Nats fan used to be bleak. The team finished last in its division in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010. In those years, one source of occasional excitement was third baseman Ryan Zimmerman‘s preternatural ability to hit walk-off home runs. Zimmerman has nine in his career so far. Only six players in Major League Baseball history have ever hit more than 11, and even non-baseball fans may recognize the names: Jim Thome, Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, and former Nats manager Frank Robinson.
Zimmerman is just 29 years old, so he has a good chance to eclipse the record of 13 career walk-off home runs, held by Thome. It took Thome 22 years to hit that many; Zimmerman still hasn’t finished his 10th season.
Last month, the Nats had five walk-off wins in six games, which no team had achieved in almost 20 years. If not for a hamstring injury that has kept Zimmerman from playing since July, perhaps the magic of that week would have rubbed off on him, too.
What happened yesterday: The Nats beat the New York Mets for the 11th time in 13 games this year. The second-place Braves had the day off.
What’s happening today: The Nats-Mets series continues tonight at 7:10 p.m. in New York. The Braves travel to Texas to face the lowly Rangers at 8:05 p.m.