We haven’t heard a Nationals player say those words too much this season. But there wasn’t much to find fault with in this one. Aside from the Nationals exploding for 13 runs on 21 hits, there was Craig Stammen’s complete game, helped by a few smooth defensive plays by the Nationals’ infield.
Perhaps it’s best to look at this one through the lens of all the offensive superlatives the Nationals set tonight:
—Nick Johnson, Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn hit back-to-back-to-back homers for the first time in franchise history since Aug. 23, 1997, when the Expos’ Andy Stankiewicz, Mark Grudzielanek and Mike Lansing did it in the 9th inning at Wrigley Field. It was the second time this season a team has done it (the Yankees were the other).
—It was the second time this season every starter had at least one hit (the other was July 5 against Atlanta), and it’s happened just three times the last three years.
—Willingham had his third multi-homer game of the season, and the seventh of his career. Alberto Gonzalez matched a career high with four hits.
—The 13 runs were the most the Nationals have scored since last Aug. 22 at Wrigley Field (must be something about this franchise and big games at Wrigley).
—The 20 hits were the most the Nationals have since coming to D.C., and the most in Nationals/Expos history since April 19, 1999.
—With 10 extra-base hits, the Nationals tied a record since moving to the District (wanna guess who that was against?).
Two other plaudits: Craig Stammen’s complete game comes after an impressive seven-inning start last Monday in Colorado. The rookie started throwing his curveball early in the game, which kept the Astros off his sinking fastball. “It’s just learning how to pitch a little more at this level,” Stammen said.
And as for Josh Willingham, there’s no more question he should be playing every day. Not after the last 17 games, when he’s hitting .410 with three homers and 13 RBI. It’s hard to think back to early May, when Austin Kearns was starting in right field and Willingham was hitting .135 as an extra outfielder.
“When Kearns started the season, he was playing well. You couldn’t just sit him down,” Acta said. “Everybody had to wait their turn. He outhit everybody. That’s the way the game works.”
Finale of this road trip (and the first half) is tomorrow at 2:10—Jordan Zimmermann against Brian Moehler. Also, my final shameless Twitter plug of the first half—our page is @washtimesbb, where I’m usually posting in-game updates, analysis and just talking Nats. We’ve got over 320 followers now, and we’d love for you to join in.
Talk to you tomorrow.