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Just one game, but offense showing life

Aug 6, 2015, 10:59 PM EST

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The Nationals’ offense has been a problem area in recent weeks, so one game will not solve all of their woes and reinstall them as one of the most potent lineups in the majors. But in Thursday night’s win, there were several indicators that suggest they are moving in the right direction as a team.

Wilson Ramos continued to swing the bat as well as he has all season and Ian Desmond seemed to benefit from his day off. Anthony Rendon looked more patient and loose at the plate. Ryan Zimmerman continued to make an impact, albeit in one plate appearance as a pinch-hitter.

Those are four key names who, if they keep it up, could dramatically change the outlook of the Nationals. Bryce Harper and Yunel Escobar have been carrying the Nats’ lineup all year, now it’s time for others to step up, as they did in Thursday’s 8-3 win over the Diamondbacks.

Clint Robinson, who hit a three-run homer in the game, thinks the lineup is finally starting to come together.

“Hitting can be contagious. Just taking advantage, when you get something to hit, do something with it. The hits haven’t been going our way, but we hit a lot of balls hard today. Some of them didn’t go for hits. Just putting good swings on balls,” he said.

For Ramos and Desmond, it has been a long time coming. They have both been mainstays in the Nationals’ lineup for all of this season, yet each has had trouble making an impact night in and night out.

Ramos went 2-for-5 with two RBI on Thursday and now has five hits and five RBI in his last three games.

“I think he’s got that knack for driving runs in,” Matt Williams said. “Guys are out there, he hits the ball back through the middle well. The ball he hit to left, he just picked on a heater that wasn’t quite in and hit it to left field. In those situations he can pick a pitch to hit if he wants to.”

Desmond went 2-for-4 with a homer, a double, two runs and a walk. He had two extra-base hits for the first time since May 27 and reached base three times for just the fourth time in 103 games this season.

This all came the day after he was replaced by Danny Espinosa in the lineup. Desmond took the day off and came back with a bang.

“The homer I think was a changeup, a first pitch changeup. That tells me he’s seeing the baseball,” Williams said. “And that’s good. And the next time he hit one off the wall to left as well. It’s short, compact. He was calm today at the plate, which is important for him, and put the head on the ball. That’s all he needs to do.”

Rendon and Zimmerman have both recently returned from injuries and it has taken a while for each of them to regain their timing. The two of them, however, have shown signs of life in recent games.

Rendon finished Thursday 1-for-3 with two walks. He has hits in three straight games and has scored a run in four out of his last five.

“I think he’s seeing it fine,” Williams said. “He’s going to continue to play and get better and better.”

Zimmerman doubled off the wall to score Michael Taylor in the seventh inning in his only at-bat of the day. He now has RBI in each of his last four games.

Zimmerman thinks the Nats’ lineup is turning a corner and is confident given their track record collectively.

“A lot of us have been in the big leagues for a long time and a lot of us have had success,” Zimmerman said. “We understand that we’re gonna have bad weeks, we’re gonna have good weeks. We just gotta keep going and keep working. Everyone in this room works. A lot of coaches work really hard. If we keep doing that for two months, I like our chances.”

  1. senators5 - Aug 7, 2015 at 12:17 AM

    and Jason Werth???

    • Section 222 - Aug 7, 2015 at 12:47 AM

      party pooper!

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 7, 2015 at 4:52 AM

      “A lot of us have been in the big leagues for a long time and a lot of us have had success,” Zimmerman said. “We understand that we’re gonna have bad weeks, we’re gonna have good weeks. We just gotta keep going and keep working. Everyone in this room works.”

  2. BatBoy - Aug 7, 2015 at 12:26 AM

    GYFNG! Jason Okie Dokie! Rock Star he is!

  3. stoatva - Aug 7, 2015 at 7:35 AM

    So Scherzer will pitch Sunday at home against the Rockies meaning he will miss the Dodgers and pitch once each in SF and Mile High. This sounds familiar, somehow.

    • tcostant - Aug 7, 2015 at 8:32 AM

      Would you rather have 88 mph, that doesn’t sink anymore Fister go on Sunday? I’m happy to see Max Max on Sunday (I’ll be there).

      • natsfan1a - Aug 7, 2015 at 8:52 AM

        Me, too, regarding Sunday. 🙂

      • nats106 - Aug 7, 2015 at 8:52 AM

        Yep. Need the W’s any way we can

  4. Muddy Ruel - Aug 7, 2015 at 8:13 AM

    Clint Robinson hit the ball hard almost every time up yesterday, even though it had “just” the 3-run, line drive homer to show. Once he was called out by the rookie ump on a 3-2 pitch that was at least 2 inches outside per the TV “box” graphic — and Clint let the ump know about it. I’d never seen him complain to the ump before. Robinson is a great find. Kudos to Rizzo and company. Also, great trade last winter to bring in Ross and Turner … .

  5. JayB - Aug 7, 2015 at 8:39 AM

    This is now sounding better……sitting Ian was smart….do it again and again as needed. Clearly it got his attention. Fister to the bullpen….long over due and this response is what pros do….it about the team not the players…they get plenty of money and attention…..doing what is best for the team is a lost focus in this organization the past several years. Good to see this now because it is very different from everyday this year from the manager and GM

    • therealjohnc - Aug 7, 2015 at 9:06 AM

      Correlation is not causation; just because B follows A doesn’t mean that A caused B. Desmond has sat before without having any impact on his hitting, so I’d be interested in the basis for “[c]learly [the benching/day off] got his attention.” MW has on many occasions said that being calm and short to the ball is key for Desmond, and praised Desmond whenever Desmond inadvertently (j/k) lapses into being calm and short to the ball.

      Also, “doing what is best for the team is a lost focus in this organization the past several years” is pretty much a crock. I suggest that we all (myself included) try not to mistake “they have a different idea than me as to what is best for the team/organization” as “they have lost focus on what is best for the team.”

    • jd - Aug 7, 2015 at 9:06 AM

      JayB,

      When you say it’s long overdue you need to keep in mind that until Strasburg was ready to return there were no good options to sit Fister. You don’t want Jordan or Cole starting. Do you? Also Fister’s track record gives him a longer leash than most, not because of some sort of favoritism but because history says that he may well regain his form.

      Your approach is to punish players for poor performance and I think that’s a short sighted approach. You bite your nose to spite your face, You bench players for poor effort or if they have lost their abilities for one reason or another not just to be a hard ass. Players break out of slumps all the time, the trick is to always put the players on the field who give you the best chance to win short and long term. In this case Ross gives you a better chance to win than Fister so that’s what we are doing.

    • Bruxtun - Aug 7, 2015 at 10:09 AM

      “doing what is best for the team is a lost focus in this organization the past several years”

      examples?

      Ryan moving to left then first? Jayson moving to left? Espinosa trying to convert to right hand only? Roark to the pen? Escobar to second then third? Rendon from third to second?

      Your whole “back in my day players used to play with a broken skull and one arm, get off my lawn you damn kids” schtick is so old.

  6. nats106 - Aug 7, 2015 at 8:52 AM

    Hellickson is not exactly a tier 1 pitcher, but I’ll take it. I suspect home splits with 500 teams is not going to be enough. But again, it’s better than 1-3 against a very average ballclub.

  7. jd - Aug 7, 2015 at 9:18 AM

    Sorry I can’t resist:

    MW bullpen management exhibit W:

    1) Took a still very effective Ross out after 6 innings and 89 pitches – That’s a minor complaint of mine because going with Jansen, Storen and Paplebon is the master plan, still I am all for leaving an effective starter in the game until he starts showing real signs of fatigue. For the record I supported keeping Ross in the the NY game so I am consistent in my opinion.

    2) After the DBacks loaded the bases against Jansen in the top of the 8th MW let Jansen pitch to Owens which is reasonable, he then allowed him to face Inciarte (lefty) but after the latter doubled he brought in Thornton for the next bunch of lefties and switch hitters, so my puzzlement is this: If you don’t trust Jansen to retire left handed hitters why do you wait until after serious damage is done before making a move? if you do then why do you make a move after the double? I think it’s important to ignore the results here because MW has to make the decisions without the benefit of knowing the outcome. I think it’s a consistent problem with MW where he makes a move one batter too late.

    BTW, I think using Treinen in the 9th was 100% the correct move.

    • nats106 - Aug 7, 2015 at 9:31 AM

      In an offbeat backhanded comment. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. That being said, I agree with everything you said. Sorry-couldn’t resist.

  8. micksback1 - Aug 7, 2015 at 9:56 AM

    As I said a month ago, Ross needs to be in rotation. Fister has been terrible

  9. JayB - Aug 7, 2015 at 10:58 AM

    Danny trying right handed only really….when was that…….or was it Danny half hearted saying he would try and then not doing it ever in a game that counted?

    Ian D playing every inning this year is selfish….that did not help the team at all. Benching him is what was needed in April and every month since then. Just a few days each time would have been much better for the team.

    Tanner R should have been but in the rotation and Fister to Bull Pen back in May.

    Werth in LF is a joke…..first base if he can beat Zimm out….which he may well be able to do…..playing both ever again is just not admitting Rizzo has two really bad contracts on his watch.

    There are plenty of selfish moves this year….many of them by MW and Rizzo because they do not like to take a hit to their massive egos.

    • Bruxtun - Aug 7, 2015 at 11:18 AM

      “massive egos”

      Guessing you know a thing or two about those.

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