One play, and it cured so many ills.
The Nationals did not leave San Francisco without issues and the numbers still bore out significant concerns. They are 29th in the major leagues in batting average, on-base percentage, and on-base plus slugging. They’re 28th in the majors in slugging percentage. On this trip, the Nationals went 4-6 and hit a collective .205.
Harper’s homer was their only offense until the 10th inning Wednesday, a one-run lead blown when Gonzalez and Storen combined to walk the first two batters of the eighth and an RBI single by Posey tied the game. It could’ve been worse, perhaps another loss to stew over, were it not for a tremendous defensive play by first baseman Adam LaRoche, who snared the third out of the inning and, when Storen was late to cover first base, smartly got the ball to Desmond for a force at second.
But over the course of their trip, the Nationals lost a catcher to a strained hamstring and a reliever to a self-inflicted broken hand. They learned their right fielder will need about 12 more days to heal his own hamstring. And their No. 5 starter was forced to skip a start with an oblique strain.
“I don’t like it,” Johnson said. “But our offense has just been down. We’ve got a whole bunch of guys who need to start stepping up and I think we’ll do that when we go home.”
As they stood on the infield under a clear blue sky and celebrated for the first time since Friday, though, they enjoyed this step. They enjoyed this win.
“The team’s been struggling,” Soriano said. “And maybe today will be the day that we stop that.”
“We’re a great team,” Harper said. “We’re excited to get back home. … That’s a tough road trip. Trying to win this last game was huge for us. We’ll go back home and hopefully get on a roll.”