Ian Desmond led the charge in the Nationals' 7-3 win over the Cubs tonight, going 3-for-4, coming up a triple shy of the cycle and notching three RBIs.
According to Davey Johnson, this offensive outburst came after Desmond noticed he'd made an unintentional adjustment that might have been affecting his timing at the plate.
Desmond told Johnson that he noticed he'd moved up in the box a bit recently, and while his positioning might have been just a couple inches closer to the pitcher than he'd normally like, that can sometimes make all the difference. Desmond was able to self-adjust, and he struck the ball well three times tonight, including a line drive homer in the fourth and a double to right-center in the fifth.
"He's just been moving up in the box, they've been throwing him a lot of offspeed stuff," Johnson said. "I said sometimes you can do that subconsciously. You start inching towards the pitcher. And then you start looking at your contact points. It's always little things. Frank Robinson did the same thing, started moving up and I said something to him and he went off."
The offensive production from Desmond, Danny Espinosa (1-for-4 with a two-run double) and Kurt Suzuki (1-for-3 with a two-run double) gave Ross Detwiler some early run support and allowed him to settle in after a bit of a slow start.
Detwiler allowed two runs on five hits over his first three innings but ended up holding the Cubs to just those two runs over his 6 2/3 of work.
"Det pitched a good ballgame," Johnson said. "That was a game where he learned that he had to mix in some curveballs. Pretty good fastball-hitting club and after about the third inning (he) started mixing in more curveballs. Getting ahead and made it easy for him. He wasn't real happy when I hooked him (with two outs in the seventh) but that's good, I like that.
"I didn't really like the matchup and he'd thrown 90 pitches. And we've got other guys on the ballclub that need some work, too. So it was a good spot to get (Craig) Stammen some work."
Detwiler appeared to grimace when moving to cover first base on a grounder to the right side in the seventh inning, and while the left-hander said after the game that he felt fine, Johnson noticed a little something off about his starter today.
"I don't know what it was, but coming in between innings, he looked like he was getting out of bed or something," Johnson said. "He really looked down. But he was still throwing good. Just when he'd come in after the inning, he didn't look his usually perky self. But still a heck of a ballgame."
Pitching for the first time in a week, Stammen allowed one run over the final 2 1/3 innings and struck out two.
The Nats were able to put up seven runs tonight without Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper, their No. 2 and 3 hitters on opening day. It looks like Werth will land on the DL tomorrow with a slight strain of his right hamstring, with outfielder Eury Perez coming up from Triple-A Syracuse to fill Werth's spot on the Nats' 25-man roster.
As for Harper, Johnson said the 20-year-old will likely be back in the lineup tomorrow after having a minor operation last night to get rid of an ingrown toenail on his right foot.
"Harper should be OK for tomorrow," Johnson said. "His toe looked a lot better. The redness and all that was a lot better today, so he'll probably be all over me tomorrow. But it's big when your three-hole hitter's out of there and you score a bunch of runs. That's big."
If you're interested in seeing Harper's gross surgically repaired toe, here you go. Harper tweeted a picture of it just a few minutes ago. Enjoy.