"The approach hasn't changed," Matt Williams told reporters after the Washington Nationals' hitters came alive for the second straight game this afternoon in the Nats' 10-2 win over the Texas Rangers. The 19 runs scored in the first two games of the three-game Interleague set with the Rangers matched the total amount of runs scored in the previous seven games they played, over which they were 1-6.
Anthony Rendon homered in the first (no.6) to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead on Sunday. Jose Lobaton drove two runs in with his second home run of the year in the second. Jayson Werth drove both Rendon and Denard Span in with a two-run double to make it 5-0 Nats after two.
Adam LaRoche's three-run home run, his seventh of the season, came in the fourth to put Washington up 8-0 and after the after the Rangers finally got on the board, Scott Hairston hit a two-run blast to make it 10-2.
Rendon was 4 for 5. LaRoche was 2 for 3. Span, Werth, Lobaton and Espinosa connected for one hit each and the Nats collected 12 total while also going 3 for 5 with runners in scoring position in the win.
"Anthony got a couple of bloop base hits in the last couple of days and sometimes that gets you going," Nationals' manager Matt Williams said after the game.
"Jayson has had a couple of hits and hit with guys in scoring position today. Nate [McLouth] is looking good. Danny is looking good. [Ian Desmond] had the big three-run homer yesterday. Denard is stinging the ball everywhere. So, sometimes they fall, sometimes they don't, but you've got to keep swinging and keep hitting them and eventually they will."
Williams talked on Friday night about Desmond's three-run home run in the series opener with the Rangers as a hit which lifted some of the pressure off the Nationals, who were struggling to drive in runs and connect on big base hits.
"The swing put us ahead, so that in and of itself relaxes everybody," the first-year manager explained. "There's a lot made of it, there has been a lot made of it, so that helps, certainly. We had some good at bats tonight. Wilson [Ramos] continues to swing the bat well. Anthony, a couple of hits. [LaRoche] with a big double. And Jayson got a couple in there too."
Happy as he was to see some of the bats come alive, Williams said he was just as impressed with a couple of at bats that didn't end in hits. "The ones I'm probably most pleased with are Danny's although he didn't get any hits," he said. "Saw the ball really good tonight and was right on everything so that's a good sign too."
So does the former major league buy into the idea of hitting being contagious?
"I buy in, because I've stood in that box a few times," Williams responded to the reporter who asked after Saturday's win.
"I think it's more relaxation than anything," he continued, before once again mentioning the pressure put on players by the media.
"Because they all read and they all listen, and all that's been talked about over the last week-plus, so when we get into a situation and it's not happening, everybody tries to do a little more and that's natural, that's human nature.
"When you jump out early, you can relax. Or you get the big three-run homer from Desi yesterday that put us on top, that can relax players. And once they relax their true talents come out, so I think that's all it is."
The back-to-back wins set the Nationals up with an opportunity to earn their first series sweep since they beat the Astros in a quick two-game set in late April and the first three-game sweep since they beat the Marlins in three straight in the second week of the season.