I only caught the last few innings of the Nationals' 7-1 win over the Marlins on Friday, so I'll keep this pretty limited. But Friday night was another big win for a team that's quickly making a habit of playing solid baseball on the road.
Washington is 6-4 on the road this season, and could close up its third road series win of the year with a win over the Marlins in the next two days. That's a sign of a team that's not going to go away quickly, and in winning a few games in Florida, Chicago and Philadelphia, the Nationals are forging a different identity in some places where they've historically struggled.
It was another good night for Scott Olsen, who threw six scoreless, and Ryan Zimmerman, playing his first full game since April 21, was nothing short of brilliant (two homers, a double, a walk, two runs and three RBI). Nyjer Morgan continues to hit well (2-for-5 tonight) and had he not robbed Ronny Paulino of a bases-loaded double in the seventh inning, the entire game could have changed. This is a team that's playing with a great deal of confidence and swagger, and more often than not, the Nationals are making plays at key moments in the game.
"The attitude of the ballclub is as good as I've seen," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "They get after it, they play hard, they care, they play with passion. You can't ask for any more than that if you're managing."
One concern I'd have is how much Tyler Clippard has pitched lately. He worked another 1 1/3 innings on Friday night, and had more trouble locating his fastball than he has all year. He's currently on pace for 84 appearances, and Jim Riggleman has mentioned several times how someone else needs to step up in the late innings. Brian Bruney got some work on Friday, but struggled again keeping his fastball down and spotting his slider. If Bruney doesn't pick it up, there could be a ready-made spot for Drew Storen to slide in once he gets up to the majors (probably sometime in June).
I'll have more in the morning, with a look back on the Nationals' impressive first month of the season, and we're all set for our get-together at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Crystal City Sports Pub.