Here’s a funny thing about baseball. It is a string of random events that leads to an outcome, because it is a game watched and covered by humans narratives are added. Take for example the feelings that spread through a shell shocked Natstown after a nine run lead was blown Friday night leading to an 11-10 extra innings loss and 4-0 shutout in the first half of a double header. From checking the pulse of the fan base one would think it was 2009 all over again, but this is baseball and things can turn around quickly.
A team is only as good as their next starting pitcher and after John Lannan came out of exile from AAA and pitcher seven innings of two run ball to earn himself and the Nats a win. Ross Detwiler followed that up Sunday by doing the same exact thing and giving the Nats a split in their four game series against the Braves and putting the division standings back the way they were before the weekend began.
Detwiler wasn’t the only key preforming for the Nats Sunday afternoon as Ryan Zimmerman started the game off right with an opposite field two run homer off of Jair Jurrjens. Two innings later Zimmerman would hit a solo homer to lead-off the third and extend the Nats lead to 5-0. In total Zimmerman would finish the game 3-5 with those two homers and 3 RBI.
While Zim gets all the attention for spurring the Nats offense Danny Espinosa should not be ignored. He ended up reaching base in every plate appearance on the afternoon while going 3-4 with two doubles, a walk, and reaching base in his final AB on a fielder’s choice. Since the All-Star break Espinosa is hitting .342/.366/.526 before this afternoon, and .289/.330/.444 over the last 28 days. Danny Espinosa and Ryan Zimmerman have been two of the bigger cogs in the Nats offense in recent weeks.
It isn’t all good news for the Nats though. After sitting once again it was reviled that Desmond has a small tear in his oblique and will need time on the DL. After earning a trip to the All-Star game with strong play in the first half of the season Desmond had been limited in playing time in the second half of the season. Desmond will be missed by the Nationals and they will hope for a speedy recovery, but Lombo has filled in for multiple Nationals that have found their way to the DL and done an admirable job.
With Desmond heading to the DL it will mean more starts for Roger Bernadina until Jayson Werth finishes his rehab. Bernadina has preformed well as a bench player and fourth outfielder, and went 3-4 in Sunday’s contest against the Braves with an intentional walk to load the bases in the fifth that brought Leon to the plate. Leon would hit a double that would extend the Nationals lead to 8-0.
In the top of the sixth inning the Braves started the inning with a single and a double that had Nats fans flashing back to Friday night, but Detwiler was able to limit the damage with a strikeout of Chipper Jones before a passed ball by Leon would allow the Braves to score their first run of the afternoon. Freeman would drive in Heyward for the Braves second and final run of the game as the Nats did what they couldn’t Friday night and finished the game. After Detwiler finished his seven innings Stammen came in and limited the Braves to one hit while striking out two over the final two innings of the ball game. Stammen has been one of the best relievers for the 2012 Nats.
After blowing the biggest lead in franchise history Friday night and then getting shutout 4-0 Saturday afternoon the Nats may have entered their lowest point of the 2012 season. Once again the calming hand of Davey Johnson would be in evidence as the Nats remained even keeled and ended up earning a series split against the Braves and finishing this weekend where it started 3.5 up in the division that they have lead most of the season.