Ready to close out the first half

The Nationals’ recent three-city road trip might not have seemed that lengthy, given one of the stops was just a 45-minute drive from D.C.

The visit to Baltimore was followed by trips to steamy Colorado and Atlanta, where the Nationals literally worked up quite a sweat over the last week.

They now return home having gone 5-5 on the 10-game trip, which helped give them a winning month of June. The Nats went 15-11 last month, and after going 14-8 in April and 15-13 in May, they have now put up three straight months of above-.500 baseball.

Yeah, we haven’t seen the Nationals do that too many times in their brief history, have we?

Today’s off-day couldn’t come at a much better time, as the players will now get a chance to soak up some air conditioning and let their bodies recover before heading back out in the heat for six more days.

It sure will be nice for those last six games prior to the All-Star break to be in the comfort of their home ballpark, even if the first three will come against a red-hot Giants team which is creeping up on the Nationals for the best record in the National League.

That should be a fun three-game set, which will see the Nats send their third, fourth and fifth starters out against the Giants’ Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain.

The good news for the Nationals is that they’ll face that super-tough trio of Giants starters with two of their top sluggers finally looking like themselves.

It’d be fair to say Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse found their strokes on this road trip, as they combined to hit .421 with five homers and 18 RBIs in Colorado and Atlanta.

In addition, Ian Desmond continues to smoke extra-base hits seemingly every other at-bat, Adam LaRoche keeps on driving the ball out of the ballpark, and guys like Tyler Moore and Jhonatan Solano made major contributions over the last six games.

Yes, three of those six games were played in Coors Field, where even I could hit a 450-foot homer. But still, the Nats scored an average of 8.5 runs per game over those six contests, more than double their season average of 4.1 runs per game.

It’s possible we’re starting to see the offense Davey Johnson thought he’d have all season. It took three months to get here, but with plenty of important games left to be played, better late than never.

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