Nyjer Morgan heats up


nyjer morgan stealing third.JPGLast night, Nyjer Morgan singled, swiped two bags and scored on an error–all before Cristian Guzman, the second batter of the game, left the batter’s box. The game was indicative of his recent July surge. Morgan is batting .288 this month, an increase of over 30 points from his .252 batting average the rest of the season, while his on-base percentage has increased from .314 to .333 over the same time. He’s been doing his job in center field, too, committing zero errors thus far in July.

But the most notable improvement is Morgan’s baserunning. His 10 stolen bases in July pace the Majors and he’s only been caught once since July 3. He successfully stole 17 bases in the three preceding months combined.

Morgan set a career high and became the first player in Nationals history with three steals in one game last Thursday against the Reds, while recording two hits and a walk. Always one to be assertive, Morgan says he’s trying to change his approach.

“I am just getting good jumps, getting good reads out there,” Morgan said. “I was trying not to really be so aggressive. I’m trying to let it come to me, trying not to do too much. After analyzing after so long, after so many months, I was trying to do a little too much.”

Maybe that’s because it was this time last year that Morgan had a monstrous month also. He posted a batting average of .388, an on-base percentage of .418 and a .495 slugging percentage last July, after starting his first game in a Nationals uniform on July 3. Since then, fans have come to expect the same kind of production every month from the Nationals’ leadoff man. Perhaps Nyjer Morgan expected it of himself too. When it didn’t come to fruition the first few months of this season, questions began to arise. But July is showing a return to form for Morgan.

“Once it clicks, it’s about to go off,” Morgan said. “And I feel like something is about to pop off right now.”

Braves (57-42):

1.    Martin Prado – 2B

2.    Jason Heyward – RF

3.    Chipper Jones – 3B

4.    Brian McCann – C

5.    Eric Hinske – LF

6.    Troy Glaus – 1B

7.    Alex Gonzalez – SS

8.    Melky Cabrera – CF

9.    Tim Hudson – SP (10-5, 2.47 ERA)

 Nationals (43-57):

1.      Nyjer Morgan – CF

2.      Adam Kennedy – 2B

3.      Ryan Zimmerman – 3B

4.      Adam Dunn – 1B

5.      Roger Bernadina – RF 

6.      Ivan Rodriguez – C

7.      Willie Harris – LF

8.      Ian Desmond – SS

9.      Livan Hernandez – SP (7-6, 3.12 ERA)

* With last night’s 3-0 victory over the Braves, the Nationals have won their last five consecutive series openers at Nationals Park.

* Last night, Miguel Batista earned his first win as a starter since May 11, 2008 vs. the Chicago White Sox. He struck out six and allowed three hits in 5.0 shutout innings.

* Josh Willingham has reached base safely via hit or walk in 19 consecutive games. During that stretch, Willingham is hitting .333 (23-for-69) with five doubles, one triple, three home runs, six RBI, 11 walks and a .425 on-base percentage.

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