Show of Good Faith

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All week long – or really ever since the Nationals had last won a Spring Training game, a week ago Monday over the St. Louis Cardinals – manager Davey Johnson has been repeating the same line about his offense: give it time. He attributed the inconsistency to the fact that the regulars weren’t playing much. With a few positions still to be decided in camp, many of the potential bench or Triple-A players were getting most of the at-bats and, in turn, a chance to prove themselves. Johnson kept pointing to one day, Sunday, when the team would return to Viera and the regulars would return to the lineup, as the day we would get a better look at the real 2012 Nationals. As we have mentioned before, “Viera” means faith – Johnson had it in his hitters, and they did not disappoint upon returning to their Spring Training home.

The team gathered for batting practice the morning before Sunday's game.

The entire team took batting practice in the cages behind the right field wall here at Space Coast Stadium at 10:30 this morning, and it didn’t take long for that work to translate on the field. With Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche still out of the lineup battling minor injuries, the focus was really on the top four hitters in the lineup: Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth. The four combined to go home run, double, double, home run to open the game Sunday, staking Stephen Strasburg to a 4-0 lead before Matt Harvey and the Mets could even record an out. Roger Bernadina added a solo shot to cap a five-run first inning and Washington cruised to a 12-0 shutout.

In all, four Nationals homered and five logged multi-hit games, as they took advantage of the wind, which was blowing strongly out to left field, the reverse of the normal jet stream here in Viera. Werth’s was the biggest shot of them all, a monstrous blast that cleared the wall, the berm, the tiki hut behind that, and evidently hit Werth’s own truck, parked near the outer reaches of stadium property.

“I think that thing landed in a lake, or something,” mused Johnson. “That ball was absolutely crushed. That’s the hardest ball I’ve seen him hit since I’ve been here.”

We’ll follow up with Werth tomorrow and see what kind of damage he did to his own vehicle. Regardless, it provided a major shot in the arm for a team that needed one.

The Nationals filled up the scorecard on Sunday, especially over the first three innings.

Yes, it’s Spring Training. And yes, as Johnson has been saying all week, these games don’t count. Nevertheless, with the skipper pointing time and time again to this day as an indicator, as the time to judge the offense and the team in general, the Nationals couldn’t have picked a better day to snap out of their slide with a statement game. You know, for a Spring Training game.

We’re back at Space Coast again on Monday as Washington plays host to the Houston Astros. Here are the Nats results to date:

vs. Georgetown (exhibition) – W, 3-0

@ Houston – L, 3-1

vs. Houston – L, 10-2

@ New York (NL) – W, 3-1

@ Atlanta – W, 5-2

vs. St. Louis – T, 3-3

vs. Houston – W, 8-0

@ Miami – L, 3-0

vs. New York (NL) – W, 8-2

@ Detroit – T, 5-5

@ St. Louis – Canceled (rain)

vs. St. Louis – W, 8-4

vs. Detroit – L, 6-3

@ Atlanta – L, 6-5

vs. New York (AL) – L, 8-5

@ New York (AL) – L, 4-3 (10)

vs. Miami – T, 1-1

vs. Detroit – L, 11-7

@ New York (NL) – L, 2-0

vs. Atlanta – L, 3-2 (10)

@ St. Louis – L, 9-0

@ Houston – L, 5-1

@ Baltimore – L, 12-3

vs. New York (NL) – W, 12-0

vs. Houston – Sunday, 1:05pm

Overall Record: 6-13-3

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