After a seven-day stretch where not much went right for the Nationals, a lot went their way tonight.
The Nats pounded out 15 hits and scored nine runs. Stephen Strasburg put an early fielding error and two unearned runs behind him and delivered six strong innings. Drew Storen and Blake Treinen combined to throw three scoreless frames. Tyler Moore had his first pinch-hit of the season. Wilson Ramos showed signs that he's continuing to heat up, as did Nate McLouth.
The end result was a badly needed 9-2 win in the opener of this three-game set against the Rangers.
Here's manager Matt Williams after the win:
On if Ian Desmond's three-run homer in the fourth can calm everyone down and get things going in the right direction: "It can. The swing put us ahead, so that, in and of itself, I think, relaxes everybody. There's a lot made of it, there has been a lot made of it, so that helps, obviously. We had some good at-bats tonight, some really good at-bats. Wilson continues to swing the bat well, Anthony (Rendon) a couple hits, Rochie (Adam LaRoche) with a big double and Jayson got a couple in there, too. The ones I'm probably most pleased with are Danny's (Espinosa), even though he didn't get any hits. Saw the ball really good tonight and was right on everything. So that's a good sign, too."
On what happened after Strasburg's error in the second, when he allowed two runs: "I don't know. The balls that were hit were up in the zone. His changeup got a little up there in one inning, but other than that, I think he pitched really good."
On if Strasburg was hurt in the second, when Williams, Steve McCatty and trainer Lee Kuntz went to check on him: "No, he was doing some funny things out there so I went out there and I asked him. And he got mad at me, so I left. He's fine."
On Strasburg putting his early error behind him: "It's a trait that all pitchers need to have. It's never absolutely clean all the time. So he was a little animated and upset when he came back to the dugout, but that's a good thing. It's a good thing for him to be not pleased with not catching a ball and giving up a couple runs. It's OK. That's just competing. It's a good thing."
On Denard Span going from first to third on a grounder to third base and then scoring on a wild throw: "Well, he's moving on the pitch, and the ball goes to the third baseman so he knows the third baseman has to throw the ball across the diamond. Once he releases it, if he's to second base, he makes that read. He made a great read."
On Espinosa: "He's been making some adjustments and he's been working extremely hard. Worked long and hard the last three days to make those adjustments. Tonight, I think the fruits of that llabor showed up a little bit, although the results weren't there. The first ball he hit on the button to second base. The second time up, he saw an off-speed pitch. Hit it to center field. Missed it, but was right on it. And the last time up, of course, he battled in an at-bat and they walked him. I think those are all positives for him."
On how Ryan Zimmerman fared in his rehab appearance at Single-A Potomac tonight and what the plan is for him tomorrow: "Don't know. We'll see how he gets out of it tonight. He had four at-bats tonight. They went extra innings and he wanted a fifth and we told him no. Of course, it happens that way. It always does. But he got four at-bats tonight and we'll see how he comes out of it tomorrow and how he's feeling and we'll make a determination on what he's going to do. But he got a lot of at-bats, which was good."