The Nationals surged for most of July with the offense igniting for the first time in a while. A lot of that offense centered around the bat of right fielder Jayson Werth.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced that Werth has been named the National League Player of the Month for July.
Werth hit .337 (28-for-83) in July with 11 doubles, six home runs, 24 RBIs, 17 runs scored and 14 walks.
Werth also earned the Player of the Month in July 2013, when he hit .367 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs.
In July, Werth led the National League in doubles, RBIs, extra-base hits (17) and game-winning RBIs (six). Werth also ranked among the National League's best in slugging percentage (second, .687), on-base percentage (third, .446) and batting average (fifth).
He is the only Nationals position player to ever receive the citation.
Pitchers Chad Cordero (June 2005), Stephen Strasburg (April 2012), Gio Gonzalez (May 2012) and Jordan Zimmermann (July 2012) have all been named National League Pitcher of the Month in years past.
Also before tonight's game, manager Matt Williams said outfielder Nate McLouth was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to right shoulder inflammation retroactive to Aug. 2.
"He's fine. He's got some shoulder inflammation," Williams said. "He saw the (doctor), he had an MRI today and a shot to calm it down. It's just inflamed. We decided to put him on the DL and get it right just to make sure. Over the last few days, it's been really sore."
Williams said McLouth might have hurt the shoulder on a play last week in Miami.
"I asked him yesterday if he thought that the dive in Florida did something," Williams recounted. "He said he didn't feel it at the time, but you got adrenaline going and you're playing the game, sometimes you don't feel it. But since then, it's been sore. So I don't know if he did something in Florida diving for that ball or not. It'll calm down. They'll get to it, start treating it. He should be fine, though. Nothing serious. He'll be fine."
Outfielder/infielder Steven Souza Jr. was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse. When he arrived, he was seen taking ground balls at first base during early workouts.
"Don't make too much of that," Williams cautioned. "That's just part of his routine. He does that on a regular basis even when he is down in Syracuse. So we started that in spring training. He just takes ground balls over there.
"He will be hopefully in games. We have a limited number of off-days from now until the first of September and even beyond that. A lot of our guys have played a lot of games, so we have to look at potentials where we can get them off. Jayson is one of them. Denard (Span) is one of them. So I would anticipate Steven would be in the lineup from time to time starting. Certainly coming off the bench to pinch-hit, running the bases. He adds a lot of things to our club. Hopefully, all of those things will be the role that he'll be in."
But Williams said they still would like Souza to be ready at first base if the need arises.
"We have to make sure he works on it," Williams said. "If in fact we get in a situation where (Kevin Frandsen) is in the game or Franny's out of a game and we get to a point where something happens with Adam (LaRoche), then we have another option. He's the emergency (first baseman).
"But we also have to make sure he is familiar with it in case we get there. He's one of those guys that has some experience in doing it. He's also played third. I wouldn't anticipate it, I hope it never gets there, but you never know. So we have to work to make sure that if it does happen, that he's been over there a time or two."
Souza has hit .354 and leads the International League in OPS with an impressive 1.036. He is tied for the league lead in RBIs with 70 and has 18 home runs.
"The good thing is that he has been playing every day and he has got rhythm and timing," Williams said. "What we don't want is for him to lose that. But sometimes there is just no way to guard against it. So I'm going to try to get him in games and make sure we maintain that timing and that rhythm for him.
"He has had an incredible year and we don't want him to lose that feel. But then again, we've talked a million times about we got guys that play every day and they're pretty good players. So, you don't want to mess with that either."
Souza was pulled after a base hit in Sunday's game. When they asked to speak with him, he thought he was in trouble.
"They actually jokingly said I didn't run hard down to first base," Souza said. "So I was a little confused. But they let me know when we got back from Scranton. It was just excitement, especially because these guys are in first place hunting a World Series."
He didn't take credit for his amazing season, but instead said it was his teammates in Syracuse and the year they're having that made his job easier.
"I've had a great team. There are some great guys down there that have really put together some good years," Souza said. "Takes a lot of pressure off you. We have a heck of a manager and a heck of a staff down there. Just makes it fun to show up at the park every day and play your game."
He said he would have no trouble playing first base if that was the position he was needed to play.
"It's fine. I played a full year in 2011, played infield my whole life," Souza said. "It's kind of like riding a bike as far as getting ground balls. Now getting live balls and stuff that might be a little different. I've taken (ground balls) every now and then down there. In spring training, we got going there. I'm excited for it."