As we head north on the train out of Union Station on a Tuesday afternoon, it seems like we just unpacked our bags from a 10-day trip to Philadelphia, Florida and Atlanta. Now, after a short 2-2 homestand that featured plenty of action with the Marlins and Pirates, it’s on to New York, Baltimore and Milwaukee.
In those four games, the solid Nationals defense made just one error and Roger Bernadina thrilled us with the best play I’ve seen at Nationals Park. The staff ERA went from 3.77 - 9th in the National League - to 3.65, good for 6th. The club batting average crept up from .222 to .225 as Jayson Werth showed signs of life by going four for his last eight, Laynce Nix continued to hit the ball hard, and Mr. Bernadina established himself as a bona fide leadoff man.
On the homestand, Bernadina went 5-for-16, walked three times, drove in three runs and laid down several
beautiful bunts. His on-base percentage is well over .400 with his batting average is in the .300 range, the kind
of numbers we’re all looking for out of that No. 1 hole. And his defense ... wow! The great catch on Mike Stanton’s drive got the nation’s attention, and he threw out a Pirate at third base Monday night. Watching him in the outfield is a joy if you enjoy defense.
On a personal note, Bernadina is one of the nicest, most polite young men I’ve ever met in this game, and when you find a player whose personality and attitude match his talents, you’re on to something special. In the last two weeks, he may have solved a major problem the Nats have been dealing with since Nyjer Morgan had that great second half in ‘09.
The subject of some of the conversation on the train today is Mets’ third baseman David Wright, battling a bad back problem and about to go on the DL. He has always played well against the Nats, and his absence will be felt by the Metropolitans.
The Orioles have been better this year, and again this weekend we’ll mix our MASN crews to include Jim Hunter and yours truly on play-by-play with analysis from F.P Santangelo and Mike Flanagan.
Then it’s on to Milwaukee, where the Brewers are bolstered by the addition of Zack Grienke. The Nats were swept at Miller Park last year and swept the Brewers at Nationals Park in April, so these teams are gunning for each other.
So, it’s “on the road again” for the Nats, and hopefully, a continuation of the solid baseball, or, as Jim Riggleman calls it, “clean baseball,” they’ve been playing most of the 2011 season.