The Nationals this season have been propelled by youth, never more than yesterday. With Adam LaRoche sidelined and Tyler Moore taking his spot, only one Nationals’ starter, Rick Ankiel in center field, was older than 30. Five of the 10 starters were 25 or younger, and three — Moore, Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper — were rookies. “These young guys are carrying us,” Manager Davey Johnson said.
The Nationals’ young and inexperienced players lifted them to a 6-0 road swing through Boston and Toronto. Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman, the presumed two biggest bats in the middle of their order, went a combed 9 for 49 (.184) with two doubles and zero homers.
“The young guys have really been attacking the ball,” Johnson said. “The veterans have been not doing things they’re capable of doing, but that’s the good news. They’re going to do it.”
The Nationals, of course, played without Jayson Werth as well. But they still averaged 5.2 runs per game on the trip despite little contribution from Morse and Zimmerman.
“We have a very well-rounded team,” Zimmerman said. “We have a lot of guys that can hurt you up and down the lineup. With Werth out, it shows what kind of depth we have. Obviously our pitchers have been great all year. If I get a few hits every now and then, we’ll be even better.”
Zimmerman, who carried the offense for so long, has struggled to keep up. He is hitting .229 since he returned in early May after two weeks on the disabled list.
“I just can’t stay consistent,” Zimmerman said. “It’s part of the game. I think when you can’t get locked [in] over a long time, it’s frustrating. You just got to keep doing what you’ve been doing for your whole career, keep working hard. Things will change. It’s no fun, but it happens. Our team is good enough that we have other guys who can pick it up. We pitch so well that we’re going to win. It makes it a little easier to stomach when we’re winning.”
They did so with youth. Six of the Nationals’ starters yesterday were homegrown, and of those four spent significant time in the minor leagues from 2010 onward.
“It’s been great, man,” Moore said. “The minor league organization and the guys they have down there, preaching to us every day to play hard, it’s just fun to see this organization grow.”
FROM THE POST
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse was off.
Harrisburg 8, Erie 7: On rehab, Chris Marrero went 2 for 3 with a double and came out for a pinch runner in the eighth. Jesus Valdez went 3 for 5 with a double. Chris Rahl went 3 for 4 with a walk. Also on rehab, Ryan Mattheus allowed no runs in one inning and struck out one. Danny Rosenbaum allowed one earned run in four innings on eight hits and one walk, striking out three.
Erie 8, Harrisburg 2: Jeff Kobernus went 2 for 3 with a home run. Jimmy Van Ostrand went 2 for 3 with a homer.
Winston-Salem 6, Potomac 5: Zach Walters went 2 for 4 with a triple. Justin Bloxom went 1 for 4 with a double.
Winston-Salem 5, Potomac 3: Justin Bloxom went 1 for 3 with a homer. J.P. Ramirez went 2 for 3.
Hagerstown 5. Hickory 3: Jason Martinson went 1 for 4 with a home run. Kylin Turnbull allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings on six hits and four walks, striking out four.