One year after Davey Johnson took over as manager in Washington, the Nationals have the best record in the NL.Riding back-to-back big offensive performances, the Nationals look for a third consecutive victory over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday at Coors Field. After falling 4-2 at Colorado on Monday, Washington (43-30) pounded out a season-high 21 hits in a 12-5 win the next night and recorded 14 during an 11-5 win Wednesday. The Nationals' latest victory came one year to the day from when Johnson managed his first game for the club after Jim Riggleman abruptly resigned days earlier. Since Johnson took over, Washington is 83-73, and as the All-Star break nears, the Nationals have the third-best mark in the majors.
Rookie Tyler Moore and Ryan Zimmerman each homered for a second straight game for the Nationals, who have not scored at least 10 runs in three straight contests since June 10-13, 1995, when the franchise was based in Montreal. Moore is hitting .455 (15 for 33) since being recalled from Triple-A on June 7. Zimmerman is 8 for 17 with six RBIs in the last four games after going 5 for 48 in his previous 12. He's batting .380 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs in 25 games at Coors Field.
Scheduled Washington starter Edwin Jackson (4-4, 2.91 ERA) has not been nearly as effective at Coors, where he's allowed 21 runs, 24 hits and walked eight over 12 innings spanning three starts. He yielded 10 of those runs in 2 1-3 innings in his last start in Denver, a 12-1 loss for Arizona on April 27, 2010. Jackson could get plenty of support if Washington hitters stay hot against a Colorado starting staff that is 0-14 with a 9.42 ERA in 20 games since Christian Friedrich won at Arizona on June 4.
Josh Outman (0-3, 8.64) hopes to earn that elusive victory Thursday when he makes his sixth straight start since leaving the bullpen. The left-hander was staked to an 8-0 lead Saturday but allowed five runs and exceeded the 75-pitch limit manager Jim Tracy has set for his starters by throwing 92 in 4 2-3 innings of an 11-7 win at Texas. Carlos Gonzalez is batting .449 during a 16-game home hitting streak for Colorado (28-46). He's 3 for 5 with two doubles and a triple against Jackson.Teammate Dexter Fowler is 10 for 19 with two homers and six runs scored in his last five contests.
Another big total to eclipse but this time at a much more reasonable price. Washington has seen the majority of it's success from a starting rotation that has the best ERA in the league, however playing at offense friendly Coors the last few days should help cotninue the favorable trend at the plate. With Adam Laroche (.251 15 47) expected back in the lineup this afternoon along with Ian Desmond (.274 12 39), the thin air provided by Coors will only mean another afternoon of long balls flying out against a challenged Outman, who is still looking for his first win for the Rocks. 19 year old rookie phenom Bryce Harper (.281 7 20) has come back to earth a bit from a sizzling start out of the gate, but combines speed and power into a versatile package for the Washington offense. While it has been tough stretches for Danial Espinosa (.223 6 22) and Ryan Zimmerman (.236 5 28) its only a matter of time before they figure things out that will only result in an NL East expansion of their lead. Meanwhile, Colorado at 28-46 is third worst in the majors. While their subpar starting pitching is a considerable letdown the only way to win especially at home is to outscore your opponent. Hitting .270 collectively with 91 HR, Carlos Gonzalez (.333 17 54) continues to put up MVP All Star caliber numbers. Michael Cuddyer (.256 11 47) has done a nice job following his escape from the Twin Cities though the end results haven't changed much for the better overall. Dexter Fowler (.286 10 35) has already exceeded expectations in production counteractive with his speed and success at the plate. Jackson has been sharp but may need a bit of extra run support if the Nats are to continue their momentum winning this series. Best of luck however you play!