That includes the performances by right-hander Dan Haren, who continued to distance himself from a rocky introduction to the District.
After a dominant eight-inning performance against the Braves last week, Haren came away from his six innings of work Thursday with a sour taste in his mouth about the two-out, three-run home run he surrendered to pinch hitter Matt Tuiasosopo to bring the Tigers within a run in the sixth.
But, buoyed by five runs from his offense through just two innings, it was not a mistake that cost the Nationals the game. And on a day when he felt himself searching for his best stuff, that may be the difference as they round into form.
“It was a really big win for us,” Haren said. “And hopefully we keep the momentum going through the weekend. … We’ve come a long way in a week it seems.”
Against Doug Fister, the Nationals’ first six batters reached base, and they had three runs already in the dugout before they had made two outs. Their onslaught, built largely on singles, included two more runs in the second. They chased Fister, who entered with a 4-0 record and a 2.48 ERA, after three innings.
Their bullpen, overworked early and hardly taxed of late, got three scoreless innings from Ryan Mattheus, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano — who closed it out with his 12th save.
After the Nationals took the first game of the series, they talked about finding themselves. They felt like they were close.
Thursday, as they ushered the Tigers out of Nationals Park, they took another step toward that place.
“That first month, we were all just kind of up in the air about what’s going on,” LaRoche said. “We couldn’t pinpoint it. … But at no point did you see anybody panic and worry about where we’re going to be in three or four months.
“We knew it was a matter of time before this lineup and this staff gets going. And people are just starting to see that. I don’t think we’ve scratched the surface yet.”