The Nationals' offense has been a problem area in recent weeks, so one game will not solve all of their woes and reinstall them as one of the most potent lineups in the majors. But in Thursday night's win, there were several indicators that suggest they are moving in the right direction as a team.
Wilson Ramos continued to swing the bat as well as he has all season and Ian Desmond seemed to benefit from his day off. Anthony Rendon looked more patient and loose at the plate. Ryan Zimmerman continued to make an impact, albeit in one plate appearance as a pinch-hitter.
Those are four key names who, if they keep it up, could dramatically change the outlook of the Nationals. Bryce Harper and Yunel Escobar have been carrying the Nats' lineup all year, now it's time for others to step up, as they did in Thursday's 8-3 win over the Diamondbacks.
Clint Robinson, who hit a three-run homer in the game, thinks the lineup is finally starting to come together.
"Hitting can be contagious. Just taking advantage, when you get something to hit, do something with it. The hits haven't been going our way, but we hit a lot of balls hard today. Some of them didn't go for hits. Just putting good swings on balls," he said.
For Ramos and Desmond, it has been a long time coming. They have both been mainstays in the Nationals' lineup for all of this season, yet each has had trouble making an impact night in and night out.
Ramos went 2-for-5 with two RBI on Thursday and now has five hits and five RBI in his last three games.
"I think he’s got that knack for driving runs in," Matt Williams said. "Guys are out there, he hits the ball back through the middle well. The ball he hit to left, he just picked on a heater that wasn’t quite in and hit it to left field. In those situations he can pick a pitch to hit if he wants to."
Desmond went 2-for-4 with a homer, a double, two runs and a walk. He had two extra-base hits for the first time since May 27 and reached base three times for just the fourth time in 103 games this season.
This all came the day after he was replaced by Danny Espinosa in the lineup. Desmond took the day off and came back with a bang.
"The homer I think was a changeup, a first pitch changeup. That tells me he’s seeing the baseball," Williams said. "And that’s good. And the next time he hit one off the wall to left as well. It’s short, compact. He was calm today at the plate, which is important for him, and put the head on the ball. That’s all he needs to do."
Rendon and Zimmerman have both recently returned from injuries and it has taken a while for each of them to regain their timing. The two of them, however, have shown signs of life in recent games.
Rendon finished Thursday 1-for-3 with two walks. He has hits in three straight games and has scored a run in four out of his last five.
"I think he’s seeing it fine," Williams said. "He’s going to continue to play and get better and better."
Zimmerman doubled off the wall to score Michael Taylor in the seventh inning in his only at-bat of the day. He now has RBI in each of his last four games.
Zimmerman thinks the Nats' lineup is turning a corner and is confident given their track record collectively.
"A lot of us have been in the big leagues for a long time and a lot of us have had success," Zimmerman said. "We understand that we’re gonna have bad weeks, we’re gonna have good weeks. We just gotta keep going and keep working. Everyone in this room works. A lot of coaches work really hard. If we keep doing that for two months, I like our chances."