The Nationals have won three straight games for the first time since April 20, and they might actually have the ingredients on offense to get on a roll for a while.
Michael Morse got four hits, Wilson Ramos drove in three runs and Danny Espinosa added two more hits, continuing to help carry an offense that’s still missing two of its key contributors (Adam LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman). Jordan Zimmermann had probably his best start of the season, allowing one run on six hits in seven innings. And the Nationals got an 11-game road trip off to a good start, beating the National League West-leading Diamondbacks 6-1 Thursday night.
Zimmermann, who hadn’t won since May 1 despite posting a quality start in every outing since April 26, was as sharp as we’ve seen him all season. He had a sharp slider, commanded his fastball well and threw 66 strikes in 97 pitches. If he’s not the best pitcher on the Nationals’ staff already, he’s certainly heading in that direction.
And Morse continued his tear, matching his career high with four hits and extending his hitting streak to 11 games. He’s hitting .319, and has a .428 average since May 1. He’s also played superb defense at first base, and if the Nationals do lose LaRoche to season-ending shoulder surgery, they should be fine in the field with Morse playing there. But what he’s doing for the lineup is possibly an even bigger key; the Nationals were counting on him to help their offense improve, or at least sustain its production after losing Josh Willlingham and Adam Dunn. And after a slow start to the season, he’s become the hottest hitter in the majors.
The Nationals are now 25-31, and will be back at it tomorrow night with Yunesky Maya on the mound for a 9:30 start.