If the Nationals let one get away on Tuesday against the Mets at Citi Field, they got it back on Wednesday. The way they beat the Mets on Wednesday afternoon wasn't completely tantamount to stealing one, but when all of your run production comes from a No. 8 hitter who went deep for the first and second times in his career and a pitcher who drove in three runs, well, it's got that feeling. Nonetheless, a nice win for the Nationals, who won two out of three in a series they should have swept but just as easily could have lost.
"I think it says we're pretty good," first baseman Adam Dunn said. "That was a scary game (Tuesday) night. I think we could've easily come out here and have been flat. We weren't flat at all. That shows a lot about a good team - just how everyone is relaxed on this team. It's fun."
On with the awards from Wednesday's game:
Roger Bernadina: Between the two home runs he hit (including a two-run shot off Francisco Rodriguez in a tie game in the ninth inning) and the diving catch he made to rob Jeff Francoeur of an extra-base hit with the bases loaded in the fifth, there's little else Bernadina could have done to help the Nats win this game. I focused most of the game story on Bernadina and what it could mean for the Nationals' right field picture if he plays well consistently. They got a glimpse of that on Wednesday.
Craig Stammen's bat: We've seen fleeting evidence that Stammen could be an asset at the plate before. But though he's a good athlete, he hasn't helped himself offensively like a Livan Hernandez. On Wednesday, though, he did. Stammen drove in three runs with two hits, providing the rest of the Nationals' offense on a day when the top of the order wasn't producing runs.
The Nationals' bullpen: Sixteen hours after being almost solely responsible for the 8-6 loss to the Mets, Washington's relievers couldn't have pitched much better than they did on Wednesday afternoon. Sean Burnett and Tyler Walker each pitched scoreless innings to keep the game tied, Tyler Clippard worked a perfect eighth and Matt Capps got his 14th save by working a perfect ninth. And the best part for manager Jim Riggleman? No walks from any of them. "You couldn't draw it up any better for a couple guys," Riggleman said. "We were committed to not use (Doug) Slaten, so it was going to be Burnett against left- and right-handed hitters. He did a great job. They stuck the one hit out there, and Walker shut it down with the big double play. Just a lot of great defense, and attitude and energy in the dugout. I couldn't ask for more."
Nyjer Morgan: After an 0-for-4 day at the plate, it's safe to say Morgan is in a bona-fide slump; he has three hits in his last 28 at-bats. He also made another questionable throw in the field (more on that in a minute), and had a couple catches that were more exciting than they should have been after Morgan got bad jumps on balls. He's shown an ability to play his way out of slumps, but he hasn't been the defensive asset the Nationals need in center field this year - at least not yet.
Ryan Zimmerman: The franchise player can't be great every day, though on a lot of days lately, he has been. But Zimmerman was 0-for-5 on Wednesday, grounded out with a chance to drive in the go-ahead run and made a throwing error.
In Case You Missed It:
--On Alex Cora's single up the middle in the fourth inning, Morgan tried to throw Angel Pagan out at home, though it looked like he had no chance to make a play. Cora went to second on the throw, and scored on Jose Reyes' ensuing double. It was a bad decision by Morgan that cost the Nationals a run, though Cora might have scored anyway.
--After Morgan's mistake, Reyes paid the Nationals back later in the inning with a mental error of his own. He tried to advance to third on a ball hit right in front of him, and Cristian Guzman threw him out at third. The play was close, with Reyes almost beating Ryan Zimmerman's tag, but even if he was safe, it was an unnecessary risk. In this case, it helped the Nationals.
--Cristian Guzman batted in the No. 5 hole for just the second time in his career, going 2-for-5 and scoring two runs. The first time he did it was last July 20 against the Mets, the final game of the hit-Guzman-lower-in-the-order experiment, which ended with an 0-for-4 day. It's difficult to see Guzman being bumped out of the No. 2 hole, but for one day, a lower batting spot worked better than it has in the past.
1. It's Roger Bernadina's day, so let's talk about him. How much of the workload can he take in right field, and how do you feel about his potential? Does yesterday change anything in your mind about him, or are your thoughts the same as they were before?
2. I talked yesterday morning about how telling a game this would be for the Nationals after their 8-6 loss to the Mets on Tuesday. And they responded with a key win to take the series. What does that tell you about this team?
3. We'll focus the third question on Stephen Strasburg, who threw six no-hit innings for Triple-A Syracuse last night. It's pretty clear there's not much left for him to work on at Syracuse; have you resigned yourself to the idea the Nationals wouldn't bring him up until June, or are you hopeful for some wiggle room there?
Leave your answers in the comments section, as usual. I'll have some junk calculations on Strasburg in a little bit, trying to project when he might be up here, and more later tonight.