Manager Davey Johnson had preached just two weeks ago about how he wanted his hitters to be “patiently aggressive at the plate.” He sensed the hitters were a little anxious and were trying too hard sometimes to make things happen.
From the Orioles series to the first game in Colorado, the Nationals managed just seven runs in four games.
But Denver is always a good place to start hitting when you get to swing the bat in Coors Field. And the Nationals did just that. The trend continued in Atlanta and now back in D.C. against the Giants.
Since the second game of the series against the Rockies, the Nationals have scored 60 runs in seven games and have scored eight or more runs in five of those contests.
Tuesday’s nine runs and 13 hits, with eight runs in the first four frames against Tim Lincecum, were another good indication the bats might be back.
“When the middle of the lineup start swinging the bat like it is capable of doing, the rest of the guys are starting to gel,” Johnson said. “That really just puts the icing on the cake. It takes the pressure off everyone in the lineup. Everybody can trust each other in our lineup. They don’t have to do too much. But we are not doing anything that I didn’t think we were capable of doing.”
Even starter Jordan Zimmermann got into the act with a RBI double off of Lincecum that lifted the Nationals to a 2-0 advantage in the second inning. Just like last year’s start against Lincecum, the Nationals plated two runs in the second frame. (In that game on April 29, 2011, Jason Marquis pitched a complete game in a 3-0 win over Lincecum.)
“Any time I can help out, it is always a plus,” Zimmermann said with a smile.
But later, in his most serious statement of the winning night, Zimmermann said the Nationals’ offense clicking means bad news for opponents down the road.
“If they keep hitting the way they are hitting now, I don’t see why we can’t just run away with this in the second half,” Zimmermann said. “If we keep pitching the way we are, it is going to be tough to beat us.”
It is nice to hear that kind of confidence from the Nationals, especially Zimmermann, who is building a sizzling season. The win was his first at Nationals Park since August 18, 2011, a span of nine games. This season, Zimmermann has gone at least six innings in every one of his 16 starts. That kind of record exemplifies confidence all by itself.
Now, he finally is getting the offense to prove it.