The Washington Nationals have been a team for the majority of the 2016 campaign that’s relied mostly on their starting pitching for success. The lineup has had peaks and valleys, but it seems they’re starting to turn a corner.
The Nats for the second consecutive game exploded on offense against the New York Mets. This time, their victim was starter Matt Harvey.
Harvey was knocked out of the contest during the third inning, as he was tattooed for nine runs (six earned) on eight hits, including a pair of walks and one home run allowed.
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The 2 2/3 innings thrown by Harvey was the shortest start of his career. The person who got everything started for the Nationals was Daniel Murphy, as he hit a two-run homer in the first inning. This was the sixth home run of the year for him, and he later added a double.
It’s not a shock that he was the catalyst, considering Murphy leads the team with a .397 batting average. He has been locked in at the plate since the season started. Murphy makes consistent contact, rarely has a bad at-bat and sprays the ball to all parts of the field.
The second baseman played a pivotal role during the third inning in which the Nats broke the game wide open en route to scoring seven runs. He was intentionally walked with two men already on base, as the Mets preferred to take their chances with the next hitter in the lineup.
Call to the Pen
The terrific start by Murphy has forced Nats’ manager Dusty Baker to move him up in the lineup. It’s hard to justify having a player that’s hitting almost .400 to remain in the bottom part of the batting order.
Murphy wasn’t the only player whose bat came alive in the series. Anthony Rendon had five hits in the last two games including four RBI. He’s still hitting just .250, but it was awesome to see him have positive results.
He has yet to resemble the player that finished fifth in the National League MVP voting in 2014, but any production from Rendon will benefit the Nationals.
The other player swinging the bat better is outfielder Ben Revere. He had two extra-base hits and two RBI in the final game of the series.
This was a welcome sign, as the club hasn’t received much production from the leadoff spot this season. It’s crucial for Revere to get in a comfort zone at the plate, as he is the table setter for the rest of the lineup.
The avalanche of runs in this series against the Mets was a terrific sight, as the team had yet to get on a roll with respect to their offense. If the Nats can continue this scoring output, they will be a formidable team as the regular season progresses and hopefully into the postseason as well.