Nationals happy to end winless streak

Nationals happy to end winless streak

Nationals happy to end winless streak
VIERA, Fla. -- Before Sunday afternoon's game against the Mets, manager Davey Johnson said he wasn't worried that the Nationals were winless in their last 11 games.

Johnson pointed out that his team hadn't been playing with its regular lineup for most of the spring, and that it would get back to its winning ways once the regulars were playing together. Most of the regulars were back in the lineup on Sunday, and Johnson was proven right, as the Nationals beat the Mets, 12-0, at Space Coast Stadium.

"That was more like it. It was fun," Johnson said.

"It's good to have us all out there at the same time," Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond said. "We needed that a little bit -- to get on the field at once. It felt good to get [17] hits and get the victory. ... It's always nice to win.

"The biggest difference this year is, obviously, we care about winning, but there is not a huge emphasis on winning [during Spring Training]. That's good. It's not like [we are in a] panic. 'Hey, we have to show people what we can do during Spring Training.' We are not worried about that. We are ready for April. We want to see what we can do when they start counting [during the regular season]."

The Nationals were able to get the victory for another reason. It helped that right-hander Stephen Strasburg, the club's Opening Day starter, allowed five hits over five scoreless innings. Johnson believes Strasburg is close to being Opening Day ready.

"Stras threw the ball well," Johnson said. "He still didn't have his great command, but he stayed within himself. He is such a perfectionist, he tries to make the perfect pitch, but it was a good day all around. We did things I knew we were capable of doing. We had it all coming. It was nice to see."

The top two in Washington's batting order -- Desmond and Danny Espinosa -- combined for five hits, while Roger Bernadina collected a spring-high four RBIs and Jayson Werth hit a mammoth home run over the left-field wall. According to Werth, the grounds crew told him the ball hit his truck.

"Right now, it's folklore. I have to go out there and check it out," Werth said. "If it is dented or smashed or cracked or shattered, I kind of foresee it staying that way. We have to see. I think they are just messing with me, but who knows. I'll keep you posted."

During the winless streak, Johnson said he was never concerned about his regular players. To the skipper, they were swinging the bats well. He was more focused on the bench players, as regulars such as Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche missed a lot of time because of injuries.

"I wasn't really worried about it," Johnson said about the winless streak. "I was more wrapped up in looking at the bench guys, the number of pitches my starters threw and the medical report on my four-five hole hitters [Morse and LaRoche] and how they were coming along. ... Even with the 0-for-10, to a man, I liked the way everybody was. I'm going to go at them hard this week and then I'll back off the guys toward the end. That was always my plan."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.