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Span hits first home run as hot streak continues

May 22, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

After tying a Nationals’ record with a perfect 5-for-5 game on Tuesday night, center fielder Denard Span picked up right where he left off against the Reds on Wednesday.

Span took the second pitch from Reds’ starter Alfredo Simon over the right field fence for his first home run of the season. Six plate appearances in a row, six hits.

Before Tuesday night’s game, Span had a .239 batting average. But after Tuesday and Wednesday, he’s hitting .268 and starting to look like the guy who had a MLB-best hitting streak of 29 games in 2013.

Span went 2-for-4 in Wednesday’s loss, as he also led off the bottom of the eighth with a single to center field. It was a line drive that was originally ruled an out on a diving attempt by Billy Hamilton, but a challenge by Nats manager Matt Williams overturned it to a hit.

Back to the homer, though. Span didn’t record one until July 27 of last season, his 98th game. This year he did it in his 39th appearance.

“It’s a good feeling when you look up at the scoreboard and don’t have that goose egg anymore. Last year it took me about 300 and some at-bats to get a home run, but this year it definitely feels a lot better to get it out of the way,” he said.

Span, however, was a bit worried after watching the ball go over the fence. Obviously he’ll take the run for his team, but in the past his home runs have preceded slumps.

“Honestly, when I hit it I was like ‘oh God.’ Normally when I hit a home run, that’s when the good feeling leaves. Then I start thinking about hitting home runs.”

Span was one of the few bright spots for the Nationals on Wednesday as they lost the game and the series to the Cincinnati Reds. They are now 24-22 on the season, still sitting 1 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the division.

Span believes the Nats are playing well at the moment, considering all the injuries they have endured. The team’s disabled list currently holds former All-Stars Bryce Harper, Gio Gonzalez, and Ryan Zimmerman, and former Silver Slugger, Adam LaRoche.

“Right now we’re banged up. It’s tough because I feel like we’re still playing good baseball, even with our circumstances right now. Even the two games we lost this series, they were tough losses. We were in both of those games. We had opportunities to win both of those games. This was just a tough series and we’ll have to move on to the next one and get ready for Pittsburgh.”

  1. Joe Seamhead - May 22, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    Silly fans in sec311 starting singing a take off on the Monty Python skit Spam, Spam,Spam on Tuesday when Span had 5 hits, substituting “Span” for “Spam”. You had to have been there, but it was pretty funny!

    • natsfan1a - May 22, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      Great idea!

      • natsfan1a - May 22, 2014 at 12:15 PM

        Next up, the lumberjack song for Jayson Werth. Or maybe not. :-)

  2. Sec 3 My Sofa - May 22, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    You would think the [pessimists] among us would LOVE this guy … hits a leadoff home run, and all he can say (about HIMSELF, mind you) is, “That means a slump is about to start.”

    • Joe Seamhead - May 22, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      As you know, I really like Denard Span and I hope that he goes on to have a career year. Nobody is flawless, but I really enjoy watching Span play CF

  3. adcwonk - May 22, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    off topic

    Wonk’s Thursday’s Thidbits

    – Max Scherzer, after giving up 6 runs in his previous six starts, last night gave up seven runs in seven innings
    — Indians won 11-10 in the 13th on a walk-off balk — after a 475-pitch 20 run 5+ hour game.
    — The balk by one of my favorite named pitchers: Al Alburquerque! (The last walk off balk occured in 2011, committed by . . . Aaron Crow)
    —- (His actual name is Alberto Alburquerque — even better!)

    – Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija continues his unbelievable season. He pitched another gem, this time 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R.
    — Cubs went on to lose.
    — Samardzija leads the NL in ERA (and games started), 2d in WAR for pitchers, top 10 in hits/IP, 1st in fewest HR/IP
    —- and he’s 0-4; winless in 10 starts (it blows me away the a player can be 2d in WAR and winless)

    – Anthony Rizzo got hit by two pitches in a row… but swung at both of them

    – Tanner Roark has allowed 2 runs or less in 6 of his 9 starts

    – Mets out hit Dodgers 13-5, but lose 4-3.
    — Mets’ rookie pitcher Jacob deGrom 2-for-3 this year; rest of Mets’ pitching staff: 0-for-71

    – Cards’ Wacha pitched 6 innings of 2-hit shutout ball, then had to come out after a foul ball struck him while he sat in the dugout
    — In Wacha’s 10 starts, he has allowed two or fewer runs six times (not quite as good as Roark, see above — just sayin’ ;-) )

    – Oakland A’s get out hit by the Rays 9-1
    — the one hit was a solo HR
    — A’s won 3-2
    —- first time a team with only one hit won a regular season game in 100 years

    – Edwin Encarnacion: yesterday I mentioned he’d hit 9 HR’s in May with 10 days left
    — he hit two more last night
    — four multihomer games in a month
    —- 11 HR in 15-game span

    – Troy Tulowitzki is hitting .247 away, and .521 (.972 SLG!!) at home

    – In one of the most unsurprising development in the world (ranking just below the sun rising today), ear-biter Miguel Olivo has been suspended by the Dodgers. (can he spell “c-a-r-e-e-r o-v-e-r” ?)

    – Happy birthday Chad Tracy (and Tommy John)

    • Joe Seamhead - May 22, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      How dare you go off topic! Here’s another one for you . Our old buddy Zach Dukes? He’s 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA in 19.1 innings with the Brewers. What’s your take, misleading ERA stats, or is he actually doing well for them?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2014 at 10:49 AM

        Duke is doing well. Whether he implodes is still possible. He just had his worst outing on Monday. He refined his sinker and it’s working. He’s mixed in a cutter and his curveball is bending lefties knees.

        His WHIP is excellent and his Ks are the best of his career.

        Who knew Duke could be a strikeout pitcher.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2014 at 10:43 AM

      Samardzija is pitching lights out. He shut down the Yankees like they were AAA. Leaves with a 2-0 lead and the Cubs bullpen loses his W.

      Samardzijia will be the hottest Trade Deadline player next to David Price. I also expect the Phoolies to try to get AJ Burnett to waive his no trade clause.

      • jd - May 22, 2014 at 10:56 AM

        I don’t think Samardziia makes it to the trade dead line. Too many teams in desperate need of pitching lead by the Yankees. Theo will get a lot for him.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        JD, Theo’s phone is ringing off the hook and timing a fire sale is tough business. I think you sell high now while his stats are Cy Young worthy.

        Usually you don’t trade a star player until June 15th and most teams wait until July 31st. That’s right around the corner.

        If the Marlins had a will to win NOW, he’s the perfect guy for them in a pitchers paradise. They are 2 starters away from making the NL East a real race. The Marlins farm is stocked for making 2 trades.

        Of course I hope the Marlins wait for next year.

  4. Eugene in Oregon - May 22, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Ghost,

    Yesterday you raised the question of what would have happened if Denard Span had gotten to second on the challenge play, i.e., would they have left him on second or sent him back to first. Here’s one for you — or others — to ponder:

    Runner on second, less than two outs. Similar hit/catch to yesterday’s. Runner takes off more-or-less on contact, assuming ball will fall for a hit. Umpire signals out (on the supposed catch) as the runner rounds third. Outfield fires the ball to second, runner is called out.

    Variation one: Runner pulls up on the out call, never crosses home plate.

    Variation two: Runner keeps running, crosses home.

    Manager challenges original catch. Video shows it was caught on a bounce, New York rules it a hit.

    How do you deal with the two variations?

    • 6ID20 - May 22, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      They would probably treat it like a ground rule double. Base runners are awarded the same number of bases as the batter. If a runner is awarded home but he never actually touched the plate, the other team could throw to the plate and appeal that he be called out. Merkle’s Boner.

      • 6ID20 - May 22, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        Either way, they’re not going to award a baserunner more bases than they give the batter.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 22, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      They way I’ve read the rule is the umps have discretion to award the runner and batter extra bases much like an interference call if they assume they get to a given base had the right call been made.

      That’s why I was wondering if Span motors into 2nd would they send him back to 1st like a dead ball.

  5. ArVAFan - May 22, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    Something worthwhile from last night’s game that doesn’t appear in the videos (unfortunately). The box score says “With Roger Bernadina batting, Brayan Pena caught stealing 2nd base, catcher Wilson Ramos to shortstop Ian Desmond.”

    What actually happened was that Pena got caught in a rundown, started by Ramos running half-way across the diamond before he threw the ball to Desmond. Pena was trying to stay in the middle, figuring he’d run away from whoever had the ball. Didn’t work. For a minute there, I thought Ramos was going to tag him himself, since he was even with the pitcher’s mound before he threw the ball.

    But it was definitely nice to see us have a couple of “caught stealings”, including the one that was upheld on replay. The call on the field was “out”. I think the replays were inconclusive: the review took a long time, with everyone standing out there in the rain. Jayson finally put his glove on his head–I guess that keeps his hair dryer?

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MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
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