BALTIMORE — The Nationals clubhouse was more upbeat Friday night than they have been all season — and with good reason. There aren’t too many negatives to dwell on when a team gets 19 hits, scores 17 home runs, has two hitters a double shy of the cycle and hits a club-record six home runs.
Here are some quotes that didn’t make it into the game story about the Nationals’ 17-5 victory over the Orioles:
Nationals manager Jim Riggleman:
“We swung the bats extremely well. It was just a good night… We’ve played good baseball. We just haven’t had too many offensive nights where we really are putting a couple games together. Hopefully this will be the start of something.
“We got shut out twice in a row, and nobody was feeling good about that. But as I told the ballclub: ‘You’ve got to feel good about the way you’re playing, but let’s go. It’s never been early for me. This thing about being early, it’s not early. Let’s go.’”
On Espinosa’s 10-pitch at-bat against Jake Arrieta where he fouled off five straight pitches and took the next one he saw for a three-run home run: “That was a great at-bat. We just really feel like he can do that. He’s done it now six times. He’s been trying to find it like everybody else, but the quality of the at-bat speaks for itself. Just tremendous.”
On the decision to remove Jason Marquis after the fourth inning, which caused a very public blowup between the manager and the pitcher in the dugout: “I just didn’t want him to go out there and face (Matt) Wieters and (Luke) Scott again. They had put the bat on him a little bit. I thought Jason was struggling through it, and I made the decision to take him out. It was a one-run game. If I’d had known we were going to go out there and score six, maybe I would have let him go back out there. But he was going to go one more at most. I just knew if somebody got on, I was going to take him out. So when I made the decision, I didn’t want to send him out there and have to pull him if he put a man on.”
“I’d say (Marquis was) about as upset as I’ve ever seen a ballplayer. He was very upset.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter:
On if this loss was tough to digest because of how much the Nationals offense was struggling coming into the game: “I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say that you think about that somewhat, but they’re major league hitters who are capable of better, just like our guys are. I think it was probably a given they were going to hit better as the season progresses. It’s just unfortunate it was against us tonight.”
On how good he felt at the plate Friday after a tough month of May: “My timing was better. That was the whole thing. Previous to this, I’d been late to everything, making my swing long, so it was just all timing. I’ve been working real hard with (Rick) Eckstein and finally I was getting my foot down and my swing was getting shorter. It felt good.”
On the team’s explosion: “We talked about it yesterday. We need to hit and we showed today what we’re capable of. We have so many good hitters. We’ve got plenty in there and there’s more to come. We know we can hit but for everybody to get going like that and just go off in a game like that, it felt unbelievable. I know it boosts everybody’s confidence in here and it shows that we can hit and that we’re going to go out there and do it.”
On the at-bat in the second inning against Arrieta: “He threw me his fastball and curveball right away. I’d seen those two pitches and he threw me a couple good ones after that I was able to just fight off and I was able to get a pitch later on in that at-bat that I could handle. It was just a timing thing and I was able to time that fastball up and get to it.”
On if he knew he was a double shy of the cycle: “Yeah, I realized it. A couple guys said it but I wasn’t thinking. The guy behind me in the on-deck circle (Jerry Hairston Jr.) kept yelling it at me, but I was just trying to have good at-bats.”
On his night offensively, in which he too was a double shy of the cycle and scored a franchise record five runs: “Right now I’m concentrating a lot on my defense… I know a couple days ago I was struggling with my bat so I’m working with that and today they threw me a lot of pitches around the zone and I hit the ball pretty good.”
On the last time in his life he hit a triple: “I don’t remember that.”
On if he knew he was a double shy of the cycle: “Yeah, in that last at-bat I was looking for my double but, you know, it didn’t happen in the game.”
On Jason Marquis night: “He was pitching good, a couple pitches were around the zone. His pitches weren’t working today too much but, you know, he’s a really good pitcher. We scored a lot of runs in the fifth inning so I was thinking he’d come back for the fifth inning to win the game but, you know, it’s not my decision.”
On the outing as a whole: “It was a grind. I thought I made pitches when I needed to. The offense put runs on the board early, which helped out. You’re going to have days when you grind, but I’m going to battle to the end until I can get my job done.”
On the dugout spat between him and Riggleman: “We want to win as a team. I want to win as a player. He wants to win as a manager. It’s just one of those things where I can be an emotional guy. We all can be emotional at times. I was just trying to plead with him to stay in the game. Obviously I didn’t get my way and just let a little emotion out.
“It’s just the heat of the moment. I want to be out on the field battling with my teammates. It’s a one-game thing. I’m going to go out there and do my work like I always do and prepare for the fifth day. And when I take that ball, be ready to get a W.”