The Nationals' 6-3 win over the Braves on Tuesday night was a study in survival skills, in how much they could do wrong - or at least not do very well - and continue to win. Livan Hernandez threw 123 pitches in five innings, but still got the win, running his record to 4-1. One-third of those pitches were in the first inning, when Hernandez knew he had to pitch around some hitters to get through the Braves' lineup the first time.
Washington made a couple of errors, one when Roger Bernadina muffed an easy line drive that allowed a run to score in the first inning. Miguel Batista made the game closer than it should have been by allowing a ninth-inning run and forcing manager Jim Riggleman to call for Matt Capps. And despite doing almost nothing at their peak, the Nationals won anyway.
They've been able to do that more than once this year, which is why they're 14-12 despite ranking in the bottom third of the National League in most statistical categories. After absorbing two poundings from the Marlins, Washington came back with a solid win on Tuesday. This Nationals team will hit the one-sixth mark of the season tomorrow night on pace for, at worst, an 84-78 record. That they've been able to do that with injuries and slumps littering the path like mines is a testament to the team's resolve.
"We've been beaten down for a couple of years," manager Jim Riggleman said. "You don't have to worry about (us coasting for a couple days). That's not going to be an issue.
Just a couple more thoughts before I go to bed - I'll have more in the morning.
--Ian Desmond, who went 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBI in the 6-3 win over the Braves, is really starting to find his groove at shortstop. He's been a big part of the reason the Nationals' defense is improved; he makes one or two plays every night that showcase his range. And he's driven 13 runs, tied for second-most on the team, despite hitting in four different spots in the lineup. Desmond's homer came out of the No. 8 hole on Tuesday. "He's a special guy," Riggleman said. "He's a great athlete, a great shortstop and the ball jumps off his bat."
--Adam Dunn hit his fourth homer of the year on Tuesday, a towering shot to the upper deck in center field, but probably could have had one or two more - he hit a couple of long flyouts early in the game. "I've been feeling good all year and haven't done jack, so I'm hoping to come in one day and feel terrible," Dunn said. "I got some pitches to hit tonight and only got one hit, but just keep swinging, I guess."