Nats being aggressive, but smart on basepaths

Nats being aggressive, but smart on basepaths

MIAMI -- Since the calendar flipped to July, the Nationals have been the most aggressive team in the Majors on the basepaths -- and manager Davey Johnson is thrilled by it.

"I like it, putting pressure on defenses," Johnson said.

It's early in the month, but already in eight July contests, Washington has swiped 16 bags as a team while getting caught stealing twice (an 89 percent success rate). During their last two games, the Nationals have stolen eight bases, including two in Friday's 5-1 series-opening win at Marlins Park.

While Johnson embraces his team putting pressure on the opposing team's defense, he also pointed to how his team has done so in a smart way. Specifically, Johnson lauded rookie Bryce Harper for reaching second by stretching a single for two bases on a fielding error, and then swiping third while Marlins shortstop Jose Reyes and third baseman Hanley Ramirez had their heads down between at-bats.

Johnson just hopes his team, which hasn't stolen more than 20 bases in a month this season, keeps applying that pressure on opponents.

"No question about it," Johnson said. "We're going to be aggressive, but not overly aggressive."