The Nationals are now up to five comeback wins in 15 games, meaning more than half of their victories have come when the opponent scores first.
The jury’s out on whether that’s the best way to build a winning record, but so far, it has the Nats coming home from a six-game road trip with a 9-6 mark.
What exactly does it say about the Nats that they keep getting up after being knocked down?
“Just that they fight. It’s good that they fight,” manager Matt Williams said after his team’s 6-3 win at Marlins Park. “We have the ability to come back in games because guys grind at-bats and they never give up. So that being said, it’s a good thing. Not ideal, but good.”
Walters, 24, now has hit his first two major league homers in consecutive at-bats.
“It’s the benefit of switch-hitting with power,” Williams said. “He’s got power from both sides of the plate and he’s a great guy for that situation. He can run as well, so if he gets on base, he’s got the ability to steal a base. So he’s got a lot of tools.”
Williams didn’t say whether Walters has earned the right to have an increased role with his hitting heroics.
“We don’t know exactly how everything all shakes out,” the manager said. “We’ve got some guys that are injured and he’s here now, and he’s contributing. So that’s all we care about at this point.”
As for Werth’s homer, Williams said the outfielder got a real hold of one against Marlins ace Jose Fernandez.
“He told me when he came back to the bench he hit that ball just about as good as he could hit a ball,” Williams said. “It’s a big yard, and especially the other way it’s difficult to do.”
Also difficult to do: Coming back from a three-run deficit against a pitcher as good as Fernandez, who allowed one run in 12 2/3 innings over his first two starts this season and won National League Rookie of the Year in 2013.
“No, he’s an animal,” Williams said. “He’s one of the best pitchers in all of baseball and Jayson put together a nice at-bat, hit the ball the other way and stayed on a pitch, and got just enough of it to get us tied up. And then, of course, Zach.”
The Nats’ pitching fared well in the contest. Tanner Roark allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings for his second quality start in three outings and Drew Storen earned the win by getting a double-play ball to end the seventh.
Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano wrapped it up with a scoreless inning apiece.
Williams liked what he saw from Roark.
“He was good,” Williams said. “Again, he gave up the home run to their second baseman, but (Derek) Dietrich’s got some power and he just left a fastball over. We were trying to go in and he left it out over the plate. Other than that, he pitched really well.”
Williams also felt that was a good time to bring in Storen.
“Because we’re looking for a double-play ball and we wanted (Roark) to get through (Christian) Yelich and face (Marcell) Ozuna,” Williams said. “But it didn’t work out that way. So I felt like a fresh arm there was good and Drew’s got the ability to throw a double-play ball, and it worked.”
About an hour before the game, Williams scratched Bryce Harper from the lineup because of quad tightness. Williams said it was simply a decision to be careful with Harper rather than having a serious injury crop up.
“He went out for BP. He’s dealing with some quad tightness, and it was tight today,” Williams said. “So I thought, ‘Well, again, we’re facing a really tough pitcher, but Bryce is in it for the long run.’ So I decided to get him out of there for today just to make sure. He’s been playing center field, he’s been running a lot, he’s been doing a lot of things. Give him a day just to calm it down a little bit, and I expect him to be in there tomorrow. ...
“The only thing today was he just told me it was tight, so I thought it would be beneficial to get him out of there for a day and give him some rest.”
The Nats bounced back from being swept in Atlanta by winning two of three at Miami, ending the road trip on a positive note.
“Every game’s important for us. So tomorrow’s even more. Tonight was good for us against a really tough pitcher. So they’re happy about that. Now we have more work to do,” Williams said.
”... I think these guys are veteran enough to understand that regardless of today, we have to play tomorrow - good, bad or indifferent. So it’s nice to end the road trip on a good note, but what does it really mean? Nothing other than we won this game. That’s important. Now we have to look forward to tomorrow.”