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The hits finally come, and they come in bunches

Apr 26, 2014, 12:59 AM EST


Matt Williams only wanted his Nationals to keep giving themselves opportunities to drive in runs, insisting more opportunities would eventually lead to more runs. Little could the rookie manager have realized how dramatically that would prove true only 24 hours after one of the most-frustrating offensive performances in club history.

The Nationals torched the Padres for 11 runs on 17 hits Friday, cruising to an 11-1 victory just one night after they went a franchise-worst 0-for-16 with runners in scoring position.

“We just keep getting guys out there and see if we can get them in,” Williams said. “Those opportunities are key, though.”

The Nationals gave themselves plenty of opportunities again Friday night. Actually, they gave themselves one more in the second game of this series than they did in the first. This time, they went 7-for-17 with runners in scoring position, including 5 for their first 7, storming out to a comfortable early lead and never looking back.

“I told you yesterday: That’s coming,” said catcher Jose Lobaton, who delivered three hits of his own to help the cause. “I know we’ve got a really good team. As soon as I got traded, I knew that this team can do better and better. Today was a day that everybody did it good. … And hopefully we can continue to do the same, because I know this team can do more. I think we can score more than 10 runs every game.”

The hits came early and often off Padres left-hander Robbie Erlin. Ian Desmond started things off with a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the first, with Bryce Harper adding a run-scoring infield single moments later.

Harper delivered the biggest hit two innings later, drilling a triple off the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center to clear the bases and give himself a career-best four RBI. It was the previously struggling 21-year-old’s third consecutive hit dating back to the end of Thursday night’s game, and though he jammed his left thumb sliding into third base at the end of the play — he left the game early but doesn’t believe the injury is serious — Harper’s big hit was further evidence of him getting his swing together at last.

“He looks good,” Williams said. “Tonight he laid off a couple of tough breaking balls down and got himself into a good hitter’s count and delivered for us. He’s looked good the last couple of days, for sure.”

The beneficiary of all the early runs was Stephen Strasburg, who took the lead and ran with it. The right-hander tossed seven scoreless innings, scattering seven hits and two walks while striking out 11 and running his pitch count up to a season-high 109.

“It’s always great to go out there in the second with the lead already,” said Strasburg, the victim of poor run support so many times last season. “It’s not always going to be the case. You have to not look at the scoreboard and just keep pitching.”

Strasburg kept pitching, and the Nationals kept hitting. They wound up with back-to-back games of at least 16 hits for the first time since the franchise arrived in D.C.

And since they scored so many more runs this time, any bad vibes from Thursday’s frustrating loss were quickly discarded.

“I don’t think anybody really cared,” Harper said. “It’s just part of the game. It happens like that. Some nights you leave guys on base and some nights you go out there and put runs on the board. Tonight we came in and swung it well and put guys on the board. See what happens.”

  1. Sonny G 10 - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:40 AM

    All those runs and none via the home run. Just kept the line moving tonight!

    • Eric - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:01 AM

      Loved it!!

  2. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 26, 2014 at 7:13 AM

    Any comments on Harper’s triple and how it looked to a batting coach? it seems a bit weird to me. might just be me!

    • Doc - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:17 AM

      It is!

  3. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 26, 2014 at 7:16 AM

    BTW we should extend Taylor Jordan to a long term deal. Last guy to give up a landmark HR to pujols named Jordan isn’t turning out to be a bad pitcher.

  4. NatsLady - Apr 26, 2014 at 7:17 AM

    Makes a BIG difference when Desi gets hits!!! The line doesn’t stall.

    Hate to say I told you so, but I will. All this was nonsense about the Nats “can’t hit in the clutch.” You hit, you hit in the clutch. The Cards, who made such a big deal about it last year–yeah, they’re back to average or slightly below with RISP. Goot hitters hit, and the problem was (IS!) we miss Ryan Zimmerman. If Desi can step up, it won’t be so bad.

    Danny did not look good last night, swinging for the fences again right-handed. Needs to do what he was doing…

    • nats128 - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:42 AM

      Its the people who say the season is over after a tough loss and the people who have suggested trading Desi. The guy is a 2 time Silver Slugger. Hes mired in a slump.

      Funniest poest I read was someone claiming the league has figured out Desi. Sure, they figured out a long time ago he swings at 1st pitch get ’em over fastballs!

      • letswin3 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:38 AM

        Yeah, Nats128, they figured him out in the 4th game of his rookie Little League season. He’s gonna swing at first pitch strikes ….. COUNT ON IT. But the guy is, as you explained, is a 2-time Silver Slugger who just ain’t gonna forget how to hit a little. Every major leaguer who ever picked up a bat, and lasted more than a few months in the bigs, has gone through a slump. Last night, Desi showed signs of creeping out of his most recent one. Count me among those who aren’t worried in the least …. I would have loved a few RBI’s over his last few games (and last night got that ball rolling), but I’m also aware that his numbers will be fine as time progresses.

    • Eric - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:04 AM

      I agree re: Espi. Nothing a good bunt today won’t fix! Seems to be a pattern with him: revert to 2013 swing form in one game, bunt in the next to kind of reset.

    • dcwx61 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      Yes, you right. I’d rather see them hitting than not. Averages prevail when you get 16 hits or more per night. Lot of good hitters on the team. The way Rendon and Espi have been hitting, Zimm’s absense has not been as great as it could have been IMHO.

  5. Joe Seamhead - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:13 AM

    Quote of the Day:

    “Our kids played well, we put the ball in play and made some good adjustments at the plate. Yesterday is yesterday, that’s the best part about baseball. You get to play again.”

    Sean O’Conner
    Head Baseball Coach
    Dematha High School

  6. natsfan1a - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:31 AM

    Now, *that* was fun. Stayed up to watch the whole thing but went to bed immediately after it ended. Did DVR the postgame but not sure I’ll have the time to watch it before today’s day game. Hope Harper’s thumb is not serious.

    • Chazz - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:34 AM

      Yes, but “Serious Thumb” would make a good name for a rock band.

      • natsfan1a - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:43 AM

        Like, totally, dude.

      • Steady Eddie - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:42 AM


  7. MicheleS - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    OH my.. that was a fun night (especially after a few other games I attended this week). a belated WOOO HOOO!! didn’t get home until really late.

    glad to see NatsJack and Another Sam last night. Jack, next time can you bring some warm weather?

    • NatsLady - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:36 AM

      Yes, it was cold and wet. Luckily I dressed for it. BUT, man, that rain poncho put those 20 pounds I lost over the winter right back on! Treated myself to driving rather than Metro, in light of a certain basketball game. Forgot how nice it is to get in my car and get home before Phil Wood is done giving the game recap…

  8. NatsLady - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    Here, have fun and listen to music. The Easy Winners

  9. Candide - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    Was out of town helping my mom after cataract surgery, so all I could do was sneak the occasional peek at MLB At Bat. If my being unable to either watch or attend the game is all it takes for the Nats to score eleven runs and the starting pitcher to go seven strong, well, my absence can be bought.

    Bidding starts at $1 for each game the opposing team is over .500…

    On another note, Cunegonde and I attended Thursday’s frustrating affair and never did get to our seats, electing to stop by 235 to visit NatsJack and his buddy Gator John. While the game was frustrating – and we had to leave after the 10th, since Cunegonde had to go to work Friday – watching NatsJack’s reaction whenever Desi swung at the first pitch was tons of fun.

    And when MW brought Clippard in, I thought NJ was going to pull his own head off his shoulders with his bare hands. 😀

    So the game was not entirely without entertainment value.

    • ArVAFan - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:29 AM

      Nice post. Hope your mom recovers ok. My spouse has attended only two games, and they lost both. So she wants to warn everyone that she is attending on Sunday.

      • dcwx61 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:49 AM


  10. Whynat - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    Heading to the game. First one I’ve been to this year with nice weather. Sportin’ my Harper tee in support of the Kid.

  11. stoatva - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:29 AM

    @JamesWagnerWP: Zach Walters is fielding balls in left pregame, and making outfield throws to home and second with Matt Williams and Mike Rizzo watching.

    • stoatva - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      @ZuckermanCSN: Wilson Ramos testing out his healing left hand right now, catching behind the plate and making strong throws to second base. Looks good.

    • letswin3 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:51 AM

      Okay, lemme see here, 2 plus 2 equals … ummmmm, I think it’s 4. If the Nats can’t sign Spann to an extension into 2015 and beyond, Harper could be back to that CF spot …. leaving his old LF spot open for someone with a big bat. Walters could be a surprise (or not) candidate with his power bat and what looks to be improving patience at the plate (he did manage a walk last night). Add to that mix, his ability to play 2 or 3 infield positions, and you might have a guy with enhanced value.

    • letswin3 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:54 AM

      Or, maybe it’s just a one day thing to fill in for the thumb injury, and I’m making a mountain out of a molehill.





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