Nationals players and coaches showed up to the ballpark before 10 a.m. today.
So did reporters, but that’s neither here nor there.
About 14 hours later, the Nats will file out of the home clubhouse at Nats Park exhausted and a bit physically worn down, but they’ll at least have two more wins in the standings than they did when they arrived this morning. They’ll also be back to .500 and will head out on their nine-game road trip in a much better mental state than if they would have dropped this series to the Twins.
“We’re beat. We’re tired,” manager Davey Johnson said, after letting out a deep sigh. “Going on a long road trip, it’s good to get back to .500 and get on with it.”
The Nats overcame a three-run deficit and picked up a win for the first time this season. They trailed 4-1 early on, but chipped away, getting solo runs in the third, fifth, sixth and seventh innings to eventually pick up a 5-4 win.
After Johnson held a team meeting this morning telling his guys to relax and be more aggressive offensively, they pounded out 24 hits and 12 runs in the two games today, giving the Nats’ skipper what he was looking for.
“It was outstanding,” Johnson said. “It was a carryover from earlier. Everybody really had quality at-bats, just like this afternoon. Just really pleased.
“We have awfully good hitters on this ballclub, just for some reason or another, we’ve been somewhat passive at home plate. We haven’t been really taking it to the opposition. And I thought, like I say, attack mode. More aggressive. And that’s what I saw last year, and I haven’t seen that this year. This afternoon was great, and it was a carryover. (Twins starter Samuel Deduno) has great stuff. Ball moves a lot. And we made him work and got good pitches to hit and drove the ball, which was good. ...
“When I see signs of better approaches, more aggressive, that’s the way you win ballgames. It’s great. We’re relaxing, and we’ve got tomorrow off. And boy, do we need it.”
Nathan Karns got hit around in his third big league start, allowing four runs over just three innings of work. But the bullpen came up big, delivering six scoreless innings, two of which came from Craig Stammen.
“Rough outing for Karns,” Johnson said. “Threw a lot of pitches in too short a time for me. But the big guy was Stammen. Stammen threw a bunch of pitches last night and came back and threw a couple good innings. I stayed with him until we had that rain delay, but then no chance to let him sit there and not go out. But, bullpen did a great job, got some clutch hits, good game.”
Closer Rafael Soriano made things interesting in the ninth, walking Chris Herrmann with two outs and then giving up a single to Joe Mauer to put the potential tying run 90 feet away. But Soriano shut the door for his 16th save, getting former National Josh Willingham to pop out to end it.
“Soriano walking the guy, throw it right down the middle,” Johnson said with a smile. “But good outcome.”