The Nationals' 14-5 win over the Cardinals on Saturday night did wonders to mend some of the wounds inflicted on them in one of their toughest weeks of the year. The game was much closer than the final score looked - Washington broke it open in the eighth inning - but in front of a riled-up crowd, the Nationals fed off the adrenaline.
"It was a lot of fun to play in - not just play, but play well," said first baseman Adam Dunn. "It just makes it better when they're into it, getting loud. It gets us fired up, too."
The 14 runs were the most the Nationals have scored in a home game since moving to Washington, and the offense - which had scored just seven runs in the team's last six games - was stoked by an unusual lineup. Seven starters got hits, and six had multi-hit games.
Here are the awards from Saturday night:
Adam Dunn: The first baseman hit his first homer since August 11, and broke out of a 19-game, 8-for-65 slump. "I wouldn't say I'm out of it," Dunn said. "The last couple days, I've been feeling really good and taking good swings. I was just trying to figure out why I was missing pitches." Dunn went over some tape with hitting coach Rick Eckstein before the game, and made a small mechanical adjustment that got him hitting again, at least on Saturday.
Michael Morse: A day after getting two extra-base hits, Morse had his first four-hit game, doubling twice and driving in a run. His season average is back up to .289 for the season. "I just had a game plan, just staying up the middle," Morse said. "I got a big hit off of it."
Roger Bernadina: Hitting third on Saturday night, Bernadina blasted his second homer in three games, taking Mike MacDougal deep to right center in the eighth inning. He's got 10 homers for the year, and on nights like Saturday, you see the potential he's got to be a consistent 15-20 homer player.
Nyjer Morgan: Hitting eighth on Saturday didn't agree with Morgan; he answered a question about it after the game with a long silence. And he went 0-for-3 with a walk, getting thrown out at the plate on a bizarre call after his teammates pushed him back to touch home plate (more on that in a minute).
Ian Desmond: The shortstop, who has been red-hot all month, was 0-for-5 on Saturday, and got the short end of the other bizarre play of the night, when first-base umpire Rob Drake called him out for stepping outside the running lane and interfering with Kyle Lohse's throw to first base.
In Case You Missed It:
--The explanation on the second interference call went like this: Morgan missed the plate, and because Ivan Rodriguez pushed him back toward home plate in the eighth inning, he interfered with a live runner. Morgan was called out on an unassisted putout by catcher Bryan Anderson. But watching the video again, it seemed unnecessary for him to collide with Anderson in the first place. Morgan said he touched home plate, and it appears that he might have on the video. But he could have hit the heart of the plate and not collided with Anderson just as easily.
--Scott Olsen was ejected from the dugout on the third-inning interference call for shouting something at the umpires after Desmond was called out. And Riggleman spoke up in opposition about the rule that a runner has to stay in the lane outside first base before stepping inside the line to touch the base in fair territory. "I just don't like the rule," Riggleman said. "They probably got it right, but it's a terrible rule. It's got to be changed. Everybody knows you can't run inside the line. It's impossible. The base is inside the line, and it's almost impossible to do what the rulebook says you're supposed to do. If where the person is running affects the first baseman's ability to get to the ball, it probably means it was a bad throw. So I think the wrong team gets punished for that." Asked if he thought Olsen's and first-base coach Dan Radison's ejections were legit, Riggleman said, "Oh yeah. You can't say stuff to the umpire like that." That drew a big laugh from the crowd watching on TV in the President's Club.
--Willie Harris hit his third career pinch homer and his second of the year in the eighth inning. He's got four RBi in his last two pinch appearances, and is doing a little bit to salvage his season.
--Adam Kennedy made a heads-up decision in the third inning, throwing home to retire Skip Schumaker on Felipe Lopez's grounder.
1. Add Morgan's curious baserunning episode to his pickoff on Friday, and he's made 30 outs on the basepaths this year. Does he offer enough upside to keep in the lineup, or do the Nationals need to make a change there?
2. The win probably doesn't do much to take away the sting of losing Strasburg, but from a pure enjoyment standpoint, where does Saturday's game rank for you this season? It was certainly one of the wilder, rowdier games the Nationals have played this year. Put it among your favorites.
Leave your answers to the questions, or anything else on your mind, in the comments section.