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Now healthy, Nationals offense is showing life

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Now healthy, Nationals offense is showing life

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."

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.