Nationals surging, slugging

Nationals surging, slugging
July 3, 2012, 6:27 pm
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Programming note: Giants-Nationals coverage starts at 3 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live, then live baseball from DC follows at 3:30 on Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area!

Nats lineup producing at lastThe Giants may have caught a break dodging aces StephenStrasburg and and Gio Gonzalez. However, they are catching a Nationalsoffense that has hit its stride recently, Nationals Insider MarkZuckerman writes at CSNWashington.com.Over the final six games of this road trip through Colorado and Atlanta,the Nationals hit a collective .345, averaged 8.5 runs and 13.6 hits per game,mashing out 24 doubles and 13 homers in the process.Ryan Zimmerman received a cortisone shot in his ailingshoulder and Michael Morse has started getting his timing back after missingeight weeks with a torn lat muscle, and the rest of the Nationals has begunreaping the benefits that came with the resurgence of those two stalwarts.Is this more of a true reflection of the lineup theNationals envisioned all along?"No question," manager Davey Johnson said. "I've said all alongwe're going in the right direction. I know the talent here. I know what we're capableof, and to see us start doing it is more like us. Nine hits a ballgame, thatshould be our low with the talent on this ballclub."The Nationals have kept their offense going despite playingin oppressive heat. They recorded nine hits in triple-digit temperatures intheir series finale at Atlanta.Temperatures for Tuesdays series opener with the Giants are expected to be inthe high 90s.MORE: Nats lineup producing at last
Harper showing poise that defies his age
Bryce Harper may be just 19 years old, but he is displayinga maturity that goes beyond his age, Zuckerman writes. Even though Harper hasgone into a slump leading into the Nationals three-game series with theGiants, Harper continues to say the right things.When MLB's All-Star teams were announced yesterday andHarper learned he was among five players on the "Final Vote" ballot,he could have bragged about his own case for a ticket to Kansas City. Instead, he repeatedly insistedthe retiring Chipper Jones should win the vote."He should have already been in the All-Star Game, no matter what,"Harper said following yesterday's 8-4 win in Atlanta. "He's an All-Star and has beenan All-Star for 20 years. I think Chip should be there and ... if I had tovote, Chip's going."Harper could have made a major faux pas when the Yankeescame to town and said something that indicated his desire to someday play forhis favorite team growing up. Instead, he kept his focus on the Nationals,resisted the urge to hobnob around the batting cage with A-Rod and CC andDerek and eventually professed his desire to spend his entire career in Washington.MORE: Harper conducting himself like an All-Star