The Washington Nationals (31-31) did, in fact, save some offense for the second game of their day-night double header against the Minnesota Twins (27-33) in an impressively offensive day for a team that has been struggling to score runs.
After blowing out the Twins in a 7-0, 14-hit victory in Game 1, the Nationals notched 10 more hits in their 5-4 win in Game 2.
By scoring 12 runs in the sweep of the double header, the Nationals scored more runs in one day than they had previously scored in the entire month of June, and overcame a three-run deficit for the first time all season.
Jayson Werth went 2-for-4 in the second game with two RBIs, going 4-for-7 over both games, as he continues to illustrate how instrumental having a complete, healthy lineup is for the Nationals to win games. Werth is batting .300 (6-for-20) with four RBIs since his return from the DL on June 4.
On the pitching side, the Nationals were less impressive than they were in the first game, but got the job done, nonetheless.
Nathan Karns didn’t last long in what was probably his last start with the Nationals before being sent back down to Triple-A Syracuse. He threw 74 pitches in three complete innings, and ran into trouble in each of them.
Karns allowed four earned runs on five hits, one home run and three walks, with two strikeouts. His abbreviated outing made Jordan Zimmermann’s seven-inning effort during the day game even more crucial to the Nats bullpen, which employed six relievers to pick up where Karns left off.
Craig Stammen did a fine job in relief of Karns, pitching two shutout innings, facing the minimum six batters and striking out one. He would have gone deeper in the game, but a 12-minute rain delay interrupted his outing and he was pulled in favor of a fresh arm.
Erik Davis followed Stammen, and got into a jam right away, giving up a leadoff triple to Eduardo Escobar. He got Pedro Florimon to ground out before Davey Johnson brought in Fernando Abad to finish the inning.
Abad’s appearance was highlighted by Anthony Rendon’s phenomenal leaping catch on a liner headed for the right centerfield gap, which saved a run and ended the inning. With Rendon’s help, Abad has not yet allowed a run to score, including four inherited runners, in nine relief appearances for the Nationals.
Tyler Clippard earned the win, and he and Drew Storen each pitched a scoreless inning to set the table for Rafael Soriano to earn his 16th save. Although he did it in a dramatic fashion, allowing a two-out walk to Chris Herrmann in front of a Joe Mauer single, Soriano got former-National Josh Willingham to pop out to end the inning and clinch the win.
The win for the Nationals offense was a multi-inning endeavor, as they scored one run apiece across five different innings.
Werth’s singles in the first and the third brought in two runs, capitalizing on two singles from Roger Bernadina and a walk and a single from Ryan Zimmerman. A sacrifice fly from Adam LaRoche in the fifth brought home Denard Span, who had walked to lead off the inning.
Span batted in a run of his own in the sixth inning by ripping a triple down the right field line to tie the game after Rendon had opened the inning with a single. Span’s triple tied him for second-most triples in the majors with six.
Finally, LaRoche and Ian Desmond hit back-to-back doubles in the seventh to give the Nationals the lead. Desmond’s double extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games.
Every high point of the game had its downside though, as almost every time the Nationals scored, they were in a position to score more than just one run, but failed to keep the momentum going. They left nine runners on base, and went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
However, the offensive performance in each of the games of the double header were a much more encouraging display of potential than what the Nationals have been showing recently. If they take Johnson’s advice and stay in “attack mode” at the plate, they should be able to keep their offense rolling as they head to hitter-friendly Coors Field in Colorado.