The Nationals have now won five of their first eight games in this 10-game homestand, taking down Matt Cain and the San Francisco Giants 8-1 Friday night at Nationals Park. The Nats did it behind the arm of Stephen Strasburg, but it was also the offense that has ignited this recent spark in D.C.
The Nationals are 25-19 at home and are one win away from a 9-3-3 series record at Nats Park this season. The team has won 6 of their last 10 and have started to play some very good baseball beginning with the second game of the Braves series June 29 (7-2 win).
They have put together this run against quality opponents, staying with division front runners Atlanta (1-2) and San Diego (2-1), the pitching of San Francisco (1-0) and a red-hot Mets squad (2-2).
Adam Dunn did most of the damage with three extra base hits on Friday, two of them home runs and three RBI, but the top of the order has been establishing the Nats offense early, getting guys on base and setting up the rest of the lineup to make things happen.
Centerfielder Nyjer Morgan had two hits, a run, a stolen base and an RBI to lead things off. In the last 14 games, Morgan has gone 17-59 (.288) with 9 runs, a double, 3 RBI and 5 stolen bases. He is hitting a little better at Nats Park, .269 at home, compared to .237 on the road.
And it was right fielder Roger Bernadina's double and run scored from second on an error by Cain that erased an early Giant lead. For Bernie, it was the first time he had scored from second on a pitcher's throw back in his time as a major league player.
Roger is batting .326 at home, while batting .242 on the road. What is more amazing is his slugging percentage before Friday was .440 at home and away, even though all five of his homers have come on the road. He has hit .290 the last two weeks with a slugging percentage of .484.
Bernadina said the coaches went over being aggressive against the Giants outfielders during the hitters meeting in pregame.
"During the meeting we talked about taking extra bases against those guys. We knew who was playing out there. We got to take advantage. So far we are doing a real good job of that."
He says the Nats want more before the break arrives Monday.
"We are ready for tomorrow. The way the team is going right now we just need to keep up the pressure and go from there."
Bernadina says the team did not allow a rough June month get in their heads.
"As a team we are always fighting. That is going to pay off somehow. We have been playing hard the whole season. Things are starting to work out on our side now."
Dunn, with 5 homers and 9 RBI in his last three games, knew this team has always been capable of putting up the numbers.
"I have said it all along our offense is pretty good when it is rolling. Pretty much for the first half it hasn't been on. For the last week and a half we have kind of relaxed a little bit and we are swinging the bats a little better."