Watch out — here comes the Nats offense! Nick Johnson’s first-inning RBI single and Ryan Zimmerman’s third-inning 2-run homer to right have put the Nationals up 3-1 over the Braves heading into the fourth here at Turner Field.
Washington’s hitters seem to have a nice, patient approach to facing Kenshin Kawakami, who has had both good and bad moments in his debut. The Japanese righty has walked three, but he’s also struck out six using an assortment of offspeed pitches to go with a 90-mph fastball.
Zimmerman took an inside fastball from Kawakami and belted it to the opposite field for a 2-run homer. He’s started to hit the ball with more authority the last two days, seems to be coming around nicely.
John Lannan, meanwhile, got off to a great start, retiring four of the first five men he faced. He’s started nibbling around the strike zone, though, leading to three walks. He also served up a solo homer to Kelly Johnson to lead off the third. After he walked Yunel Escobar, Manny Acta made a rare mound visit not to remove his starter but to give him a little pep talk. It worked. Lannan proceeded to strike out Chipper Jones and get Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur.
Also, I ran into Tom Paciorek in the press dining room earlier. The former Nats TV analyst (2006) is doing well. He lives down here and is spending some quality time with his family, including coaching his grandson’s middle school team. Wimpy was funny as ever, cracking jokes and making fun of Bob Carpenter’s monochromatic shirt and tie. Good to see him.