The Nationals keep winning.
Even when they don’t have their most consistent and clutch hitter (Ryan Zimmerman) in the lineup.
Even when the guy who leads the team in RBIs by a mile and a half (Adam LaRoche) has a day off.
Even when they suffer a punch to the gut in the ninth inning when their two-run lead is wiped out on a game-tying home run.
It doesn’t seem to matter. The Nats just keep battling and finding ways to come out on top, and today was a prime example.
The Nationals could have fallen apart after their 2-0 lead was lost in the ninth, and in past seasons, they might have. Instead, they scratched across a run in the 10th on a single, an error on Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez and an Ian Desmond sac fly. And for already the third time this season, they got to celebrate a walk-off win at Nationals Park
“It shows the character of this ballclub,” manager Davey Johnson said. “There was no letdown. I didn’t see any letdown on the ballclub, and I still had some bullets left to fire. We hung in there. That’s one of their better pitchers (starter Anibal Sanchez) that we beat there.”
The Nationals are now 6-2 in one-run games and 3-1 in games that go to extra innings. They somehow have a winning record (3-2) when they’ve trailed entering the eighth inning, and continue to battle late in games to claw out victories.
“We’re resilient,” reliever Ryan Mattheus said. “And it shows how deep the ballclub is, too. When our star players aren’t in there - LaRoche, Zim - DeRosa fills in well, Tracy did well over there today. It shows that we can win when those guys aren’t in there.”
While it’s early, multiple players have said that the success this team is having in one-run games is huge. Character can be built in those type of hard-fought games, and when you wind up on the winning end more often than not, that bodes well for a squad with legitimate playoff aspirations.
“For us to get as many wins late as we’re getting now just shows that as a collective team, we don’t get down if something doesn’t go our way late in the game, early in the game, whatever,” Brad Lidge said. “We still believe we’re going to win the game. That speaks a lot about the character of guys in this clubhouse. They believe they’re going to get that clutch hit. They all want to be in that spot. I think if we keep doing what we’re doing now, picking up guys when things aren’t going well, then when everything is firing on all cylinders, it’s going to be a pretty great year.
“Hopefully we can keep doing this. Probably every one of us will go through a spell where we’re not doing great during a part of the season. But if we keep picking each other up, keeping winning games, we’re all going to be happy.”