Right-hander Taylor Jordan showed poise and resiliency on the mound Sunday as the Nationals got their first win of the season against the Braves, 2-1.
Shortstop Ian Desmond said Jordan and catcher Sandy Leon did a nice job against a veteran and big hitting Braves lineup.
"I thought Taylor and Sandy (Leon) didn't an unbelievable job," Desmond said. "That is a young battery right there going up against a very good team. They were both really composed in some tough situations. Really tough. Couple of times some boppers (were) up at the plate, runners in scoring position, he managed to navigate his way out of it. Unbelievable job. Just really impressed by him today."
Jordan said his fastball was on from the first inning and that helped him build confidence and mix in the rest of his pitches.
"I had great movement to my fastball so I was using it a lot today," Jordan said. "I wasn't relying on my changeup for the most part. So, it was good to see life on my fastball.
"Seeing those little choppers and not so hard hit ground balls, it was really good to see that. The sinker was working great, I had great movement on it."
Jordan said he did not let the fact that it was the defending division champions across the way, or that they had lost the first two of the series, force him to speed up or panic when the Braves got men on base.
"Whether or not whoever is playing or not, I still have to perform and I still have to do what I am supposed to do and that is put up zeroes," Jordan said. "I love beating the Braves. We needed that. They are our rivals. It is great to get one."
A big moment came in the fourth inning when Jordan had allowed two walks and slammed his hand in his glove in frustration. First baseman Adam LaRoche came out to talk to the young starter.
"He was just calming me down," Jordan said. "He said he didn't really have anything to say to me he just wanted to just give me a little breather.
"It is nice to have a veteran come up to you and just tell you 'You are good. Just focus. You got this'," Jordan continued. "He said my stuff looked great, just keep on pitching."
Jordan managed to go 6 and 1/3 innings and allowed one run, setting up Desmond in the seventh who went after Braves' starter Alex Wood's first offering in a 1-1 game.
"Fastball in, a little bit up, just connected on it," Desmond said of his second homer of the season, which traveled way up in the left field stands. "It was good. We needed that one. Not necessarily a home run, but we needed to score a run there and prove to ourselves that we could hold it down."
A lineup without Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper and Denard Span for most of the day was able to hang with the Braves, making the plays on defense to stay in the game before Desmond's big hit.
"We had a couple of bats out, but at same time we have really good replacements," Desmond said. "That is what Mike (Rizzo) spent a lot of time and energy on this offseason is building up the bench. What an unbelievable job those guys did and they are going to do for us all year long."
Desmond said the Nats needed this win, even if it was only the sixth game of the season, especially because it was Atlanta, who had won nine of the last 11 games at Nationals Park.
"Just really optimistic," Desmond said of the feeling after beating Atlanta. "Obviously, it is really early and we did just lose two to the Braves. We won one. To come back and get a win right there is really encouraging. Especially going into the day off. Got a good team in Miami coming in next.
"We played good," Desmond said. "It was nice to get that monkey off our back. We obviously understand that we have some things that need to be addressed when we are playing them. But we are going to continue to get better. We will see how it shakes out the rest of the way."