Jayson Werth ended Washington's nine-game homestand with a big day at the plate, going 2 for 4 with a two-run home run and an RBI double in the Nationals' comeback win over the Miami Marlins. He scored the tying run in what ended up a 7-4 win on a Bryce Harper single, finishing the three-game series with the Fish 3 for 11 with two doubles and a home run.
Matt Williams, who moved Werth to the leadoff spot in Denard Span's absence, talked after the series finale with the Fish about the 36-year-old outfielder coming around at the plate in the last few weeks.
"It doesn't matter whether he hits one or three," Williams said.
"It's a question of how he feels and where he's at now, as opposed to a week and a half ago. It's just more at bats. So regardless of where he's at in the lineup, he'll hit. But he's done well in the leadoff spot, .390 on-base, and he's done some damage too, today with the double and the homer. So, feel comfortable if [Michael Taylor] gets on and we bunt him over then we've got a real good shot with Jayson at the plate."
In ten games and 46 plate appearances at the top of the Nationals' order, Werth has put up a .325/.413/.650 line, five doubles, a triple, two home runs, six walks and eight Ks.
Denard Span's brief return from the DL interrupted Werth's time atop the order, but when Span went back to the DL, Williams put Werth back on top.
More than anything else, however, Williams said it was the fact that Werth has built up plate appearances and gotten his timing down at the plate after missing 60 games while he recovered from fractured bones in his left wrist suffered in a May 15th game against San Diego.
"Timing is better," he said.
"Getting the foot down a little bit sooner. Staying tall on his back side and he's able to drive a ball to his pull side when he does that. Early on he was drifting a little bit trying to feel his timing and his rhythm, and it's much better now."
With 125 plate appearances since he returned, Williams said he's seeing positive signs that Werth's locked in.
"Generally in Spring Training, he's the last one to get going, it takes him a long time, and out for two months with the wrist, that on top of taking a little while to find timing is a result of him struggling a little bit early on, but he's good now, his timing is good."
The Nationals also got Taylor back in the lineup on Sunday, just three days after the outfielder collided with the center field wall on Thursday night.
In the top of the sixth, Marlins' catcher Jeff Mathis hit a long fly ball to right that the rookie outfielder tracked down in front of the out-of-town scoreboard with no signs of hesitation.
Williams said after the scare with Taylor, he had no concerns about sending the 24-year-old back out.
"He went to the wall in right-center to catch that long fly, no issues," Williams said. "I think he's measured in the things that he does on the field, unless he's really got to go. Today he had to go and there [were] no issues with it."
Is everything coming together at the right time, or a little too late?
The Nationals will face a tough test over the next three days, taking on the Cardinals in St. Louis where the Cards are 46-19 so far this season.
"Every day is different," Williams said when asked about the tough task ahead of them in Busch Stadium.
"Today we were down early, so you don't necessarily feel good about being down early, but we were able to come back. So on any given day we've opportunity to go out there and win, we'll take tomorrow as tomorrow and go from there when that one is over with."