When reporters pointed out to Davey Johnson before today's game that it looked like he was sporting a few days' worth of facial hair growth, the Nationals manager joked that he wasn't going to shave until the Nats started hitting.
After the Nats put up five runs in a 5-2 win over the Phillies, Johnson told a couple of his players that he thought it was now OK for the beard to go.
"They said, 'It's not coming off yet,' " Johnson said with a smile. "I might leave it on. See if this is not something strange happening right here."
The Nationals got some decent run support tonight thanks to a four-run fifth inning and were backed by another strong start from Jordan Zimmermann, who allowed just two runs over seven innings despite being bothered by a stiff neck. He was incredibly efficient yet again, throwing just 92 pitches over his seven innings.
"Zim woke up kind of with a stiff neck today and kind of hid it from me, but I knew about it," Johnson said. "Nothing's really hidden from the manager. So I kind of cut him a little shorter than I normally would. But he still threw a heck of a ballgame. He's not one to say anything, but cold night, I didn't want to go any further with him. But he should be all right."
Zimmermann going seven innings and allowing two runs is nothing new. The Nationals putting up five runs is, given how they've struggled offensively this season.
You could tell the Nats were trying anything they could to push runs across when third base coach Trent Jewett waved Tyler Moore home from second base on Steve Lombardozzi's single to shallow center in the fourth inning. There were no outs at the time, and Moore is by no means fleet of foot. But Jewett sent Moore anyway.
The burly Moore was out by a mile at the plate, but he did his best to dislodge the ball from Phillies catcher Erik Kratz by throwing a shoulder into him, sending both men to the ground in what looked like an open field tackle by a linebacker on a running back.
"I know Trent was a little upset he sent him on that play, but I didn't blame him at all," Johnson said. "We haven't scored many runs, and shoot, it could've been a bad hop or something. Even Tyler Moore got a terrible jump at second, shoot (center fielder Ben Revere) doesn't throw that good and the guy happened to make a pretty good play and the catcher made a good play. But we just haven't been the kind of offensive club I know we're capable of being."
Moore said that he was fine despite the big collision, and admitted he was a little surprised to look up as he rounded third to see Jewett waving him home.
"I don't have blazing speed," Moore said with a chuckle. "But, I mean, we haven't been swinging the bats all that great. So you have to take chances sometimes. Revere made a good throw and (I) ended up being out. ... I went down to slide but I didn't have anywhere to go. You don't ever want anybody to get hurt but you have to do what you have to do."
The Nats failed to plate any runs that inning, but they made up for it in the next frame by putting up a four-spot. Adam LaRoche tripled in Ryan Zimmerman, Kurt Suzuki followed with an RBI single and after Moore's infield single, Lombardozzi smoked a double to right-center, scoring two more runs.
Lombardozzi half expected the Phillies to pitch around him in that spot with Zimmermann behind him in the on-deck circle, but he made the most of his opportunity when Kyle Kendrick left a pitch over the heart of the plate.
"He did go 2-0, but I was just setting myself and staying ready to look for something in a small zone that I could drive and I got something I was able to hit," Lombardozzi said. "I knew he had to come at me. He was in the hole. But again, I knew, Jordan's on deck so I'm looking for something that I can drive. I was able to get that and got two runs on him."
For a team that has been dreadful at scoring runs with two outs and bring in add-on runs, the three hits with two outs in that inning were a big boost.
"Today was a big day with (Danny) Espinosa out," Johnson said. "For Lombo to do what he did, and to score five runs, we've been kind of stuck on none or one or two. So that was big. Big shot in the arm for the offense."