Dusty Baker’s Nationals came out of the All-Star Break swinging, scoring 35 runs on 49 hits in Washington’s four-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds. With four straight vs the Reds, five straight overall, and wins in eight of their last ten, the NL East-leading Nats opened up a 10.5-game lead going into tonight’s series opener with the Los Angeles Angels.
Washington’s offense starts the night with the second-highest average in the majors (.279), behind only the Houston Astros (.289), the second-highest on-base percentage, (.347) to the Astros’ .356, second-highest slugging percentage (.475 to the ‘Stros’ .498), the second-highest wOBA (.347 to Houston’s .361), and third-highest wRC+ (110, behind the LA Dodgers’ 111 and Astros’ 129).
“It’s fun to listen to the other teams talk about our lineup right now,” Nationals’ first baseman Ryan Zimmerman told MASN’s Dan Kolko after Zimmerman’s three-hit game in the series finale against the Reds.
Baker talked after Monday’s win about the importance of jumping out to an early lead, which the Nationals did with a five-run first in Great American Ball Park.
“What it does is that it picks us up,” he explained, “knowing that we’ve come out and jumped them early, because a lot times when you have days when you don’t hit, it takes you four or five innings to kind of get into it, and also when you’re going for a sweep, it kind of deflates the opposing team a little bit, kind of you’re like, ‘Okay, here it goes again.’”
The Nats’ skipper also said the All-Star Break helped rejuvenate his team, and it’s big to get off to a good start in the second-half as well.
“We played 46 out 48 days and our whole mantra was just finish strong and give me all you got and then take a break and then like a basketball game, the start of the second half you can jump them and pick up some more games even though some teams in our division are playing as well as we are, but that’s one game closer to the finish line and you always want to come out after the break and play well.”
The Nationals will try to keep their five-game winning streak going tonight in the series opener with the Angels, who have lost seven of their last ten.
HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR TONIGHT’S GAME IN ANAHEIM:
[ed.note - "What the heck is a DH?"]