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Eager to contribute, Suzuki back in Nats' lineup

Eager to contribute, Suzuki back in Nats' lineup

Eager to contribute, Suzuki back in Nats' lineup
ST. LOUIS -- After driving in the game-winning runs in the 10th inning Saturday night, Kurt Suzuki was back in the Nationals' lineup for the ninth straight game Sunday afternoon.

That kind of quick turnaround can be tough on a catcher, as can taking a beating behind the plate that many days in a row. But Suzuki's continued presence represents two important trends for the Nationals: They're sticking with their all-hands-on-deck approach until they clinch the National League East, and Suzuki is playing too well to be taken out of the lineup.

"He's really been playing well. It's not time to rest," manager Davey Johnson said Sunday morning. "He has said on occasion before, 'I want 'em all.' With the way he's playing, he might get 'em all."

Suzuki has hit .435 with two doubles, a homer and seven RBIs over the last six games, but his success at the plate stretches back over a month to Aug. 25. Since then, he's posted a .322/.364/.522 batting line, raising his average from .213 to .236 and his OPS from .526 to .605.

When the Nationals acquired Suzuki from Oakland shortly after the Trade Deadline, they knew they were getting a No. 1 catcher in terms of his ability behind the plate, and he's delivered on that front. But with how well he's hit lately, that deal is looking more and more like an absolute steal.

"He added a pretty good spark. He's a good hitter and a great catcher," starter Jordan Zimmermann said Saturday night. "I like throwing to him. I think all the other guys like throwing to him. He calls great games, and every time I'm out there, I feel like we're on the same page."

So Suzuki will keep playing every game, at least until the Nationals officially knock the Braves out of contention in the NL East. Then, maybe, he can finally get a few days off before the playoffs begin.

"It's nice to keep winning games. The last couple weeks, I ain't gonna lie, it's tough," Suzuki said. "To get that much closer, just take it day by day. But we know we're getting that much closer, so it's definitely nice."

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