Last night, it wasn't the usual suspects
Willie Harris -- or, more precisely, Willie Harris's presence in the lineup -- has been the target of some significant fan venom this year, which is what happens when your batting average resembles the price of a cup of coffee. Harris allowed his struggles to wear on him, both on the field and away from it.
"It's hard not to take home," Harris said. "You take it home every night. When things are going bad and you're reading a lot of bad things and things are not so positive, it wears a toll on you. I was just really trying to get four hits in one at-bat. Go home, don't sleep. It's hard."
Lately, while coming off the bench, Harris is starting to turn around his season. In July he is 7 for 19 with six walks and a home run. It is, of course, a severely limited sample size. But it's a start.
Harris has been relying on advice from hitting coach Rick Eckstein: Win every pitch. The focus has helped Harris stop worrying about his overall numbers and about his status on the team. That's changed.
"My mind," Harris said. "My mind is a lot clearer. I'm just more focused on hitting the ball hard, not trying to get three hits in one at-bat. I'm trying to go up there and win every pitch, pitch by pitch.
"Right now, my mind is clear. I'm just trying to win every pitch. I'm just going to keep grinding it out. Hopefully this second half has some highlights for Willie Harris."
It did last night, when Harris roped a solo home run in the ninth inning that gave the Nationals needed breathing room. On a night when the Nationals' biggest star commanded most of the attention, Harris's homer capped a win in which Nationals' role players were pivotal.
Of the Nationals' nine hits, two came from Ryan Zimmerman and none came from Adam Dunn or Josh Willingham. Nyjer Morgan and Ian Desmond both drove in two runs in the fourth inning. Cristian Guzman delivered his second home run of the season, a two-run shot that put the Nationals ahead for good in the fifth inning.
Roger Bernadina helped on offense and defense. He drove in Dunn with a sacrifice fly for the Nats' first run and saved Stephen Strasburg a run in the fourth.
With one out and Drew Stubbs on third, Strasburg induced a fly to right. Stubbs tagged up and bolted, and Bernadina rifled a throw home. It carried Ivan Rodriguez up the line, and he made an exquisite, sweeping tag to complete the double play and end the inning. Strasburg pointed first at Rodriguez, then Bernadina in acknowledgment.
By the end of the night, Strasburg had become the first Nationals starter since Shairon Martis to win three consecutive starts. He couldn't have done it without help from unlikely sources.
FROM THE POST
Stephen Strasburg flashed some dominance and even more competitiveness in an 8-5 victory over the Reds in front of -- among about 40,000 others -- Pete Rose. ...
... And also, as Dan Steinberg chronicles, Pete Rose's lady friend and Pete Rose's absurd hat.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Norfolk 10, Syracuse 7: Luis Ordaz went 2 for 4 with a home run. In a rehab assignment, Tyler Walker allowed three earned runs in one inning on two hits.
Harrisburg 2, New Britain 0: Ross Detwiler allowed no runs in seven innings on five hits and one walk, striking out seven. Jesus Valdez went 2 for 4. Rafael Martin allowed no base runners in 2/3 of an inning, striking out one.
Salem 3, Potomac 2 (Game 1, eight innings): Jordan Zimmermann allowed no runs in four innings on two hits and no walks, striking out four. Josh Johnson went 3 for 4 with a double.
Potomac 4, Salem 1 (Game 2, seven innings): In his first start since his promotion to Potomac, Daniel Rosenbaum allowed one earned in five innings on three hits and two walks, striking out three. Tyler Moore went 2 for 3 with a double and a home run.
Asheville 13, Hagerstown 10: Jeff Kobernus went 2 for 4 with a home run and five RBI. Sandy Leon went 2 for 3 with a double two walks.
Vermont was postponed.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Stephen Strasburg is finding his comfort zone, Mark Zuckerman writes.
Matt Capps is the most valuable reliever who could get traded, Jerry Crasnick thinks.
The Nats' offense helped Strasburg to a win, Bill Ladson writes.
Posted by: krw1010 | July 22, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Sunderland | July 22, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: gilbertbp | July 22, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Sunderland | July 22, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: SCNatsFan | July 22, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: PAskinsfan17 | July 22, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: egoodman8 | July 22, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Kev29 | July 22, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: fpcsteve | July 22, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: DCSec112 | July 22, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: skins_fan_22 | July 22, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: bottomfeeders10 | July 22, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: NickfromGermantown | July 22, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: JCCfromDC | July 22, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 22, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.