“We’ve been waiting on this all year,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “We’ve known what this offense can do and just haven’t seen it. It was nice to see the potential of this lineup.”
The angst about the Nationals’ anemic offense had become so heated that Johnson found himself supporting hitting coach Rick Eckstein before the game. One game cured all ills and relieved any concerns.
“My hitting coach is a genius,” Johnson said. “What can I say?”
Ian Desmond went 4 for 5 with three doubles. Michael Morse went 4 for 5 with one double. Adam LaRoche drilled two homers, his first two opposite field home runs this year, to give him a team-high 15. Tyler Moore clobbered a three-run homer. Every Nationals starter, including pitcher Gio Gonzalez, swatted at least one hit. One more, Mark DeRosa, came off the bench and ripped a double, which raised his batting average from .081 to .105.
“Even DeRo got off the Interstate,” Johnson said.
Ryan Zimmerman went 3 for 4, rolling a single into right field for the 1,000th hit of his career and crushing his first home run in 70 at-bats, a missile into the left field seats. Even more than their crooked run total, Zimmerman’s breakout may have been the most encouraging aspect of their beatdown of the Rockies.
Since Zimmerman received a cortisone shot before Sunday’s game, he is 6 for 12 with two doubles and a homer. The procedure has allowed him to swing freely and find the form that makes him one of the league’s most dangerous hitters and the cornerstone of the Nationals’ lineup.
“It feels better,” Zimmerman said. “I think I can do things and swing and prepare like I’ve always swung before. It just freed it up a little and let me do things like I’ve always done. It’s hard to try and make adjustments and do things the way you don’t normally do them and be successful.”
Gonzalez notched his 10th win, tying him for second in the National League. He allowed five runs, four earned, over six innings. He struck out seven and allowed two solo home runs, only the second and third homers he has yielded over 90 2/3 innings, the product of high altitude and pumping strikes with a huge lead.