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BALTIMORE - It's not a stretch to say the Nationals have been waiting for a performance like the one they had Friday night since the beginning of the season.
They've had a handful of games where they've scored seven or eight runs, and in a couple of those games, they even won without having to use their closer. But that's a breakout performance for their offense like taco seasoning is a three-alarm spice. What the Nationals needed was an undeniable kind of offensive romp, where everyone in their lineup started feeling good about themselves at the plate and the team generated enough positive momentum to last for a few days.
Will that happen after the majors' worst offense ripped the Orioles for 17 runs on Friday night, breaking several Nationals records in a 17-5 rout at Camden Yards? It's tough to say. But as the music blared in the visitors' clubhouse on Friday night, and Michael Morse clowned his way into postgame interviews, first by recording Danny Espinosa and stroking the second baseman's beard with his iPhone, it was easy to see the Nationals finally coming out of a funk.
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"It felt awesome," said second baseman Danny Espinosa, who joined catcher Wilson Ramos in coming a double short of the cycle. "Like I said, we know we can hit. But for everybody to get going like that, it felt unbelievable. I know it boosts everybody's confidence in here and shows that we can hit and that we're going to go out there and do it."
It wasn't just that the win came after 43 games where the Nationals had slogged their way to a 20-23 record, negating handfuls of strong performances from their pitchers. It was that it all came together a day after one of the team's most aggravating losses of the season. They fell 1-0 to the Mets on Thursday, getting shut out for the fourth time in 10 games, and left the field jawing at umpires after Phil Cuzzi blew a call on Jayson Werth's would-be infield single in the ninth inning.
They needed to do something, and as they boarded trains from New York to Baltimore, they knew it.
"We talked about it yesterday. We need to hit," Espinosa said. "We showed today what we're capable of. We got plenty in there. We have so many good hitters. We've got plenty in there. There's more to come."
The Nationals' 17 runs were the most they've scored since coming to Washington. So were the six homers they hit - two of them coming from Werth, who went 3-for-4 with four RBI, had his first multi-homer game in a Nationals uniform and celebrated his 32nd birthday in grand fashion.
"I was thinking I kind of stink on my birthday," said Werth, who was 0-for-5 in three previous games played on his birthday. "This was a nice change."
So too was it for the entire Nationals' roster. They needed it, and now they'll try to make it continue.
"It can," Werth said. "Whether or not it does, we'll have to wait and see tomorrow. But obviously, this is the type of game that can get you going."