It took the Washington Nationals ten innings to do it, but they salvaged the final game of their three-game set in Miami last Sunday afternoon to go into the All-Star Break with a 48-47 record on the year. It was a big win for the Nats, and it came with a reconfigured lineup on the field vs the Fish:
"We got a bunch of hits and didn't score many runs," Davey Johnson told reporters after the Nationals' first-"half"-ending win over the Marlins, "but we hit a bunch of balls hard and I liked the way it felt. Everybody seemed to have a little bit of energy in the new lineup. We'll probably stick with it for a while."
Denard Span had a 3 for 5 game, leaving him with a .245/.333/.321 line in July before the break. Will a drop to the seventh spot in the order help the Nationals' center fielder? Bryce Harper was 1 for 5 vs the Marlins. Harper has a .196/.328/.333 line since he returned from the DL. Will hitting at the top of the order spark a streak like the one he went on at the end of the 2012 campaign? Anthony Rendon? He can hit wherever you put him apparently.
Davey Johnson said he talked to his hitters and they were happy with the changes. "Everybody seems to like hitting in those spots better than in the spots I had them," Johnson said, "So, my mistake."
The Nats' 70-year-old skipper said he would likely stick with the new lineup when the Nats started up again tonight. "It was something I was going to lean toward in the second half," he said, "but it looked pretty good today and I think guys were really happy with it."
He talked about the decision to shake things up again earlier this week.
"I think I've been putting the wrong batting lineup up there," the Nats' manager joked during an MLB Network Radio interview from Citi Field in New York this past Monday, "The last time I put Harper in the leadoff spot after talking to [Ian Desmond] and Werth and a whole bunch of the guys. They felt that it was a better approach. And shoot, we got 14 hits. We got five runs, but it took us, I think, ten innings to do that, but it had a good feel and we hit a whole bunch of balls hard that day and with that mix-up, the lineup is harder to pitch to out of the bullpen."
"The way this is configured it's tougher to pitch to our left-handers," the Nats' manager explained to hosts Jim Bowden, Jim Duquette and Casey Stern. "You've got to go through a couple of good right-hand hitters and that's the reason you set it up that way."
The Nationals haven't announced tonight's lineup yet... Should they stick with the lineup they had in the last game against the Marlins?