How quickly things can turn

You hear ballplayers say it all the time.

One of the best things about this game is that regardless of what happens one night, you get to come right back the next night and try all over again.

On Thursday, the Nationals went 0-for-16 with runners in scoring position. They left 14 men on base. They dropped a tough 12-inning game to the Padres.

On Friday, the Nats showed up, tossed on the unis and pounded the ball all over the yard.

They smacked 17 hits. They plated 11 runs. They went 7-for-17 with runners in scoring position. They had five extra-base knocks.

Put the tough one behind you, come right back and go to work the next day.

“I don’t think anybody really cared,” outfielder Bryce Harper said, when asked last night about if it was tough to leave Thursday’s performance in the rear-view mirror. “It’s just part of the game. It happens like that. Some nights you leave guys on base and some nights you go out there and put runs on the board. Tonight we came in and swung it well and put guys on the board.”

The Nationals remain very confident in their offensive ability as a collective unit. They know the talent is on the roster.

For the most part, they’re creating plenty of opportunities each night. And they feel it’s only a matter of time until things really start clicking.

“Yeah, I told you (Thursday). That’s coming,” catcher Jose Lobaton said. “I know we’ve got a really good team. As soon as I got traded, I knew that this team can do better and better. Today was a day that everybody did it good. Everybody was hitting like they have to hit. I care about a lot about hit but I care more about catching. If I got those hits, I’m happy. I know I’ve got seven more guys in the lineup that they can hit.

“Today was the day. And hopefully we can continue to do the same because I know this team can do more. I think we can score more than 10 runs every game.”

In Matt Williams’ eyes, the approach last night was the key. He was happy with the crooked numbers on the scoreboard, of course, but it was what led to the crooked numbers that impressed the Nats’ skipper.

“The key to our team is the opposite gap, and we saw an example of that tonight,” Williams said. “That’s kind of their strength. The opposite gap for Adam (LaRoche). The opposite gap for Anthony (Rendon), and (Jayson Werth) and Desi (Ian Desmond). If they can do that, then we’re very productive. It’s about that approach, though, and continuing to have it. Tonight was a good example of it.”

It’s also easy to forget that the Nats have been going along without one-quarter of their opening day starting lineup (in terms of position players) for the last two weeks. With Wilson Ramos (hamate bone surgery) and Ryan Zimmerman (fractured thumb) on the disabled list, the roster has been stretched a bit.

But guys like Lobaton, infielder Danny Espinosa and others have stepped up of late. That’s certainly a positive sign.

“We’re a great team,” Harper said. “We’ve got a great lineup and we’re missing Willy and Zim. I think where we’re at right now swinging the bat, I think everybody needs to just keep it going.”

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