Johnson: “We needed it, no doubt about it”

It’s incredibly early. We’re just one month into the season, and there are plenty more games to be played.

But is it possible that coming off five straight losses, four of which were incredibly close, hard-fought defeats, that the Nationals needed a win like tonight’s? Is it reading too much into things to say that after struggling so mightily on offense the last week that the Nats needed this type of performance from their hitters to wake them out of a trance?

“Oh, we needed it, no doubt about it,” manager Davey Johnson said. “You know, when a lot of guys are not doing the things they know they’re capable of doing, not swinging the bats they know they can, they take it harder. It’s OK if you’re winning and a couple guys are struggling. But when you’re losing and the guys are struggling that know they could have had a part in turning this thing around, it’s hard sleeping.

“That’s this game. I’ve been there. I know exactly what they’re going through. So somebody standing up and getting a big hit, turning the ball game around, snatching it, that takes the collar off of everybody, the choke collar. So it was huge.”

“It,” of course, was Ian Desmond’s two-out, walk-off home run, a blast that turned yet another one-run loss into a triumphant one-run win, snapping the Nats’ skid. “It” was a homer which allowed the Nats to pump music loudly through the clubhouse for the first time in nearly a week, celebrate with each other and put the frustrating losses behind them.

“It was very important,” reliever Craig Stammen said. “It felt real good to get the monkey off our back with the losing streak. When you’re on a losing streak like that, you go home thinking about it. You wake up thinking about it. To get in a right frame of mind for tomorrow, it’s a good feeling.”

The Nationals didn’t get a stellar starting pitching performance for a change, as Edwin Jackson went six innings, allowing four runs on eight hits. (An average line which is made to look truly pedestrian compared to most of the outings from Nats starters to begin the year.) And it looked like, yet again, Washington’s bats would fail to come through, even when they had plenty of chances to tack on runs and tie the game late.

Washington was 2-of-13 with runners in scoring position tonight prior to Desmond’s homer, and trailing 4-3, they squandered a prime chance in the eighth when they had runners on first and second with nobody out, as Adam LaRoche, Jesus Flores and Danny Espinosa all went down without even moving the runners over.

But Bryce Harper’s leadoff double in the ninth followed by Desmond’s dramatic blast will help us all forget the offensive woes for a night, and will help keep the Nats in first place for at least another day.

“It’s awesome,” Desmond said. “It’s just what we needed. Right time. It’s just a good win. We played well. We battled the whole game. To finish it up like that, for me personally it was awesome, but for the team, even better.”

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