Following today’s game, Davey Johnson found his team 15 games above .500, matching their season-high.
That gave him plenty to smile about while meeting with reporters.
But Johnson isn’t satisfied yet. Not by a longshot. His team is now 47-32 on the season, but he’s already picked out his next goal - 20 games above .500.
“I like to go by fives,” Johnson said. “We got to 15 before and we dropped back. I like to progress. The next number I like to get is 20 games over. I always go by fives. Not just cause I’m wearing (No.) 5. I like to think in fives and that tells me that we’re continuing to play good and we’re continuing to win more than we lose.”
Of late, the Nats have been winning far more than they’ve lost. They’ve notched victories in six of their last eight games and, not coincidentally, they’ve been on an offensive tear during that eight-game stretch, averaging 8.6 runs per game in that time.
Today, the Nationals pounded out nine runs and 12 hits off the Giants. Starter Madison Bumgarner, who entered the game with a 2.85 ERA on the season, gave up seven of those runs. That allowed Nats starter Edwin Jackson to get the win after allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings.
“I mean you’ve got to tip your hat to the offense,” Johnson said. “That was an awful good pitcher out there and we hit a lot of good pitches, hard. Jackson, that was more like Edwin. He threw the ball, he had much better fastball than the last two times out and pretty much looked like the old Edwin. Threw the ball good. And the offense just is doing it. The middle of the lineup is the key. When they do it, we’re pretty good.
“We had a couple injuries to the middle of the lineup. Zim (Ryan Zimmerman) didn’t feel right until probably a week, 10 days ago. And we didn’t have (Michael) Morse and he’s just now coming around and (Ian Desmond’s) been doing the things we all know he’s capable of doing. The rest of the guys are doing their part, too. We’re doing the things I know we’re capable of doing, which is fun to watch.”
The Nats got production from guys like Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche throughout the early portion of the season. Lately, Zimmerman, Morse and Desmond have really turned it on. Each of those guys had at least one RBI today, and Zimmerman and Morse delivered back-to-back homers in the fifth.
“Those are the guys who are your best hitters, and when they struggle, it has an effect on everybody else trying to do too much, trying to pick it up,” Johnson said. “Trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark. But when they’re doing their thing, everybody else is just looking for a pitch to hit hard and, consequently, you get better pitches to hit and you’re a better hitter.”
Jackson had battled a bit of a dead arm his last couple starts, but today his fastball velocity was back up in the 92-94 mph range and he was able to battle back from a slow start which saw him give up three runs in the first inning.
The righty was pulled with two outs in the sixth inning, and Tom Gorzelanny gave the Nats 1 1/3 hitless innings in relief, bridging the gap to Sean Burnett in the eighth. When the Nats scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth, Johnson didn’t need to go to Tyler Clippard in the ninth, even though he considered doing so just to give Clippard some work.
“He obviously felt better from the get-go,” Johnson said of Jackson. “He was three to four miles faster than he has been the last two starts. This club hits left-handers, (and Gorzelanny) did a great job. That was the key to me, setting up the whole ballgame.”