"They finally started listening to me," Davey Johnson said last night when asked about the Washington Nationals coming up with the sort of big offensive game he's often said his team is capable of producing. "It only took them a year," the manager joked. Can the Nationals keep it up after last night's 21-hit, 12-run offensive explosion against the Colorado Rockies? "I know in this ballpark good things can happen to an offense," Johnson said when asked if the big win might finally get the offense going, "There was no panic. I know the fans were all panicky about how we're hitting and all this stuff, but there's talent here and a game like this can kind of get things a little going. We've been a little sluggish here lately."
"Our offense has been so inconsistent all year," Ryan Zimmerman told reporters after the game, "We've had some guys be in and out, been hurt, been back. [Michael Morse] is just now starting to get back. For us to kind of continue to grow and get better and for us to use this as a springboard is something that I think we need to do." Since having a cortisone shot in his ailing right shoulder (AC joint) on Sunday, the Nats' Face of the Franchise (who collected his 1,000 hit last night) is 6 for 13 (.462/.462/.846) with two doubles and a home run in three games after going 13 for 78 (.167/.198/.218) with a double, a home run, three walks and 13 K's in the month of June leading up to this past Sunday.
Of all the big hits last night (the Nats collected seven doubles and four home runs), none was more impressive than hard-hitting left fielder Tyler Moore's three-run blast off Rockies' reliever Guillermo Moscoso. (ed. note - "You can watch it again here, we can't embed that particular video.") According to Hit Tracker Online, Moore's third HR of the year traveled a total of 462 ft from home plate into the left field stands, making it the seventh-longest HR hit this season, tied with Giancarlo Stanton and Yoenis Cespedes.
Nats' Skipper Davey Johnson told reporters earlier this week that Moore would start to see a lot more playing time in left field. After last night's game, the 25-year-old 1B/OF has a .319/.396/.553 line with two doubles, three home runs, six walks and 13 K's in 22 games and 53 PA's as a part-time player, which he told ESPN 980's Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan this afternoon has been difficult for him since he's used to playing every day. "It is [a challenge]," Moore told the hosts, "Just because in the minor leagues you play every day no matter what's going on, but, you know what, we've got a lot of guys who swing the bat just as good as I do and every time I see my name in the lineup, it's a great thing, but I understand whenever I'm not in there. I'm a young guy and just trying to help this team out any way I can."
Can Tyler Moore keep hitting like he has for the last three years? Will Zim's shoulder hold up so that he can keep looking like himself as he has for the last three games? Is Michael Morse just about through his own Spring Training after starting the season late with a lat issue? And what about when Jayson Werth returns to the lineup and the Nationals have a chance to finally put the team on the field they imagined they'd have when assembling the roster? Can the offense keep it up, or did the Nats take advantage of Coors Field and some shaky Rockies' pitching? One thing's for sure, as Davey Johnson made clear yesterday. In spite of all the internet chatter about his hitting coach, Rick Eckstein, the Nats' manager does not think the blame for the Nats' offensive woes should fall on his staff.
"Rick Eckstein's approach to teaching hitting is second-to-none," the Nats' skipper told MASN's reporters before Tuesday night's game, "And I have a little experience [along] those lines. I would go into detail about it, of all the great hitting coaches, where they were not as good as Rick [Eckstein]. I take offense, well I don't really take offense, it just tells me how ignorant certain people are."
"I don't know any good hitter that ever stepped in the box and was trying to remember what the hitting coach told him to do up there," the Nats' manager said.
The Nationals and Rockies meet again tonight at 8:40 pm EST in Coors Field in Colorado, where Jordan Zimmermann will take on debuting left-hander Edwar Cabrera.