Frustrated by the Washington Nationals’ poor road stretch, Davey Johnson rearranged the batting order for Sunday’s series finale against the Miami Marlins, and it paid off in the form of a 5-2 extra-innings victory.
With Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon at the top of the order and Denard Span dropped down to seventh, Span himself made the most of the new plan of attack.
The slumping center fielder went 3-for-5 with one run and two RBIs, including the go-ahead RBI double in the tenth.
The day began with an all-too-familiar song-and-dance.
The Nationals took an early 1-0 lead in the second when Adam LaRoche singled and Span hit the first of his two doubles on the day.
Rookie Taylor Jordan went on to provide the Nats with a solid outing – allowing two runs on eight hits and no walks over six innings. The winless right-hander pitched into – and out of – trouble spots on a few occasions, but his only runs allowed came from a Marcell Ozuna single and Derek Dietrich home run that made it 2-1 Marlins in the fourth.
The Nats failed to bring a second runner home until the seventh. With two outs, Harper walked and Rendon doubled him home to tie the game 2-2.
It took an extra inning of baseball to bring the Nats back to life.
With one out, Jayson Werth singled off Steve Cishek before Ian Desmond replaced him at first on a force out. Desmond came home on Span’s second double of the day, to put the Nats up 3-2. Wilson Ramos singled and Chad Tracy brought home an extra insurance run on double off Dan Jennings, allowing Rafael Soriano the chance to erase Saturday’s misfortune with a scoreless inning of relief in the bottom of the 10th.
With the win, the Nationals will enter the All Star break one game over .500. Having gone just 2-5 during this most recent road stretch, the Nats will undoubtedly welcome an 11-game homestand coming out of the break.
THE GOOD: Whether it was based on statistics, science or just sheer frustration, Davey Johnson’s ingenious idea to mix-and-match the batting order paid off – particularly for Denard Span, who dropped the most in the order.
In addition to Span’s good day, Ian Desmond went 2-for-5 with a run scored, and both Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth tallied two hits as well. Chad Tracy, Craig Stammen and Rafael Soriano each enjoyed the opportunity to erase memories of some past shortcomings.
THE BAD: The Nationals have made the Marlins’ starting pitching staff look comparable to the top in the League during this road stint. It wasn’t until Steve Cishek came on to pitch in the tenth that Washington finally did significant damage.
THE UGLY: As a team, the Nationals stranded 11 base runners all in a day’s work.
THE STATS: 5 R, 14 H, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 5 K, 2-for-10 RISP, 11 LOB
NEXT GAME: Friday at 7:05 p.m. Nationals vs. Dodgers at Nationals Park