Baseball, while containing many individualistic qualities and statistics, is ultimately a team sport. The Washington Nationals‘ 4-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night, which pushed their win streak to four games, was a perfect example of that philosophy.
The one-two-three hitters for the Nationals, Denard Span, Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman, combined to go just 2-for-8 against Giants starter Madison Bumgarner and company. However, the middle of the order provided the support that the rest of the lineup lacked to get the Nationals the W.
Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche, the four-five-six hitters, have all found their swings recently and they kept their offense going. The trio combined to go 6-for-12 led by Desmond, who went 3-for-4. LaRoche also played a key role with a two-run home run in the sixth that gave the Nationals a two-run lead.
Not only did those three get on base, but they were able to move around the bases and eventually score, something the Nationals have struggled with this season. Werth, Desmond and LaRoche all crossed the plate to account for the team’s four scored runs.
The support didn’t just stop at the plate, either. After starter Gio Gonzalez pitched a solid four innings of work, he was pulled following a lengthy rain delay. Tanner Roark, Fernando Abad, Ryan Mattheus and Tyler Clippard combined for four innings of two-run ball. Rafael Soriano then came on for the ninth and recorded his 30th save of the season.
It’s a bit of a frustrating win, really. The Nationals team that has shown up for the past four games is the team that led many to pick them as World Series favorites. The starters have been pitching well, the bullpen has been providing good backup, and the offense is providing the necessary run support.
Tuesday night’s victory was also a reminder that the players the Nationals currently have are good enough to make them a playoff-caliber team at the least. After being cold for much of the season, the middle of the order has heated up and they are looking like the hitters of old. We’ve even seen a few hitters like LaRoche receive intentional walks.
While many have called this a lost season, the Nationals are continuing to show fight and heart as a team. Even though the playoffs may seem awfully far away, don’t expect the Nationals to roll over for anybody. The role of spoiler may just be in their future.