Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson vowed not to shave until his team's bats heated up. After the Nationals' best offensive performance in six weeks, he plans to keep his scruffy look a bit longer.
Jordan Zimmermann looks to be the first in the major leagues to nine victories as Washington visits the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.Washington totaled nine runs while dropping four of five from May 18-22, prompting Johnson to tell his team before Friday's game in Philadelphia that he would not shave until it started hitting.The Nationals (27-25) have scored 25 runs in the five games since while finishing with at least 10 hits four times, including a 9-3 win over Baltimore on Tuesday. Now it appears their manager won't shave for fear of jinxing the hot hitting."Maybe (the beard) is working," Johnson said. "I can't shave right now."Adam LaRoche homered twice while Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina also hit home runs for Washington, which posted its highest run total since setting a season high in a 10-3 victory over Miami on April 15. The Nationals have won four of six."It looks pretty bad, doesn't it? I hope he looks like Santa at the end of the year if we keep winning," Moore said.Zimmermann (8-2, 1.71 ERA) was on the mound when the runs started coming Friday, as he pitched through a stiff neck and allowed two runs in seven innings to beat Philadelphia 5-2. He's given up two or fewer runs in nine of his 10 starts while pitching through seven innings in each of his last six."It was definitely nice to get a five-run cushion and kind of put it on cruise control," Zimmermann said.The right-hander, though, hasn't gotten much offensive help against the Orioles. Zimmermann has gone 1-2 with a 2.70 ERA in four matchups, receiving eight runs of support.He'll look to slow a Baltimore lineup that had scored at least five runs in six straight games prior to Tuesday. Chris Davis hit his major league-best 17th home run, though Nick Markakis went 0 for 4 and had his 12-game hitting streak snapped.Baltimore (28-24) will send Chris Tillman to the mound Wednesday as he looks to deliver another solid outing.Tillman (4-2, 3.68) has shaken off a tough start to go 4-1 with a 2.62 ERA over his last seven outings. He didn't have his best stuff but got bailed out by the Orioles' bats Friday, allowing three runs and a season-worst 10 hits in five innings of a 10-6 win at Toronto.The right-hander had received one run of support in each of his previous two starts.Tillman has faced the Nationals once, giving up one run in five innings of Baltimore's 2-1 win May 22, 2011. Denard Span, riding a nine-game hitting streak, has faced Tillman the most among the Nationals and is 3 for 7.It doesn't appear the Nationals will have Bryce Harper, who has missed the last two games with a knee injury, until after Thursday. There's a chance, though, that second baseman Danny Espinosa will play for the first time since May 22 after suffering a broken bone in his right wrist.The Orioles have won seven of the last nine meetings at home.