Their dearth of offense does not bode well for their future success, their rotation’s win-loss record or the heart condition of their fans. But it did not prevent them from sending what remained of the 26,959 at Nationals Park home celebrating another dramatic victory, which improved them to 6-2. The Nationals remained in first place in the National League East, and they did it on Werth’s first walk-off RBI with Washington.
“You want to be a part of those,” said Werth, who has started this season 10 for 33 with four walks, swinging with more conviction and, by all accounts, finding more comfort with the team. “That’s what you play for. So hopefully that’ll be the first of many.”
Said Manager Davey Johnson: “I think he can just concentrate on being Jayson Werth more so than trying to spread himself thin.This game is tough enough. When you start bearing the burden of teammates and trying to help out . . . I think he doesn’t feel the need to do that this year. I think he’s going to be a lot more focused.”
Late Friday night, the moment demanded focus. Danny Espinosa sparked a rally against lefty reliever Sean Marshall with a broken-bat, infield single with one out in the 13th. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche each drew walks, loading the bases for Werth.
The infield shifted, first baseman Joey Votto moving way off the line. Werth considered dropping a push bunt to the right side, then thought better of it. He took a strike and a ball, then whiffed at a high fastball. Marshall threw a 77-mph curveball, and Werth was not fooled. He lined it past drawn-in shortstop Zack Cozart, jogged down the line a few steps and tossed the bat toward the dugout.
“That was, ‘Let’s go home,’ ” Werth said.
Werth continued his slow trot to first, then waited for teammates to mob and let the cheers wash over him. A television reported grabbed him for an on-field interview that blared on the stadium speakers.
“I’m just excited about all these fans that stuck around tonight,” Werth said. “How ’bout ’em?”
Many of those fans had booed him last season. Werth says he is fine with that, that fans will be fans. But he will also live here the next six years.
“I mean, he wants to be liked, just like everyone else,” Zimmerman said. “And I don’t see why anyone shouldn’t like him. He came out every day last year and played different positions, hit in different spots in the order and did a lot of things that a lot of people in his position wouldn’t have been open to do. I think with the injuries and stuff we had last year, he was asked to do a lot that he shouldn’t have been.”