The Washington Nationals are getting contributions from the entire roster during their current eight-game winning streak
Washington, D.C. -- Washington Nationals first-year manager Matt Williams began his pregame press conference Aug. 19 talking about outfielder Nate McLouth, who will have surgery for a torn labrum Aug. 21, and miss the rest of the season for the Nationals.
Some six hours later, Williams wound up his postgame presser by talking about Asdrubal Cabrera, the former All-Star shortstop for the Cleveland Indians whom the Nationals acquired in a trade July 31 for young infielder Zach Walters.
"He's a pro," said Williams, who added that Cabrera is respected by his peers, and has been just what the Nationals expected.
These days, everything seems to be going right for first-place Washington, which won a season-high eighth game in a row Aug. 19. Shortstop Ian Desmond (four RBIs) and right fielder Jayson Werth (two runs) each had three hits, while pitcher Stephen Strasburg allowed one solo home run by David Peralta in eight innings during an 8-1 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Nationals Park.
It seems when the Nationals do lose a player, such as McLouth, another player steps in to fill the void on the roster. In August, the team has gotten walk-off RBIs from Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos, Scott Hairston and Adam LaRoche.
It probably won't be long until outfielder Nate Schierholtz is with the Nationals, after he was signed Aug. 18 to a minor league contract. He played for the Chicago Cubs earlier this year, and could be a nice addition as a reserve outfielder, perhaps when the rosters expand Sept. 1. For now, he is with Triple-A Syracuse, the top farm club of the Nationals.
The Nationals went out and traded for Cabrera when they realized Ryan Zimmerman, a one-time Gold Glove third baseman, could be out with a hamstring injury for several more weeks, perhaps until late September.
General manager Mike Rizzo and staff also acquired lefty reliever Matt Thornton, who was put on waivers by the New York Yankees. Thornton, who made his Washington debut Aug. 6, gives the Nationals a third lefty in the bullpen, and a pitcher with postseason experience.
The Nationals (71-53) are still six games ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the National League East, and a season-best 18 games better than .500. They have the best winning percentage in the league.
After winning three walk-off games in a row, and playing two 11-inning games during the previous two games, Strasburg helped save the bullpen by going eight innings during the win against Arizona.
"I guess it's what the doctor ordered," Strasburg said.
Williams also commented on Strasburg's performance.
"With the exception of the home run in the first inning, he was in complete control," Williams said of the right-hander, who improved to 10-10 overall and 8-2 at home while setting a career-high with his 198th strikeout of the year. "He certainly could have gone out for the ninth, which is great. He stepped up."
So did veterans such as Desmond, who recorded the 100th stolen base of his career in the first inning. He then had a two-run single in the third, and Cabrera had a three-run double later in the inning as the first seven batters reached base in the third.
"We are kind of coming together," Desmond said. "We've kind of established our way."
And for now, that way is winning, with contributions from all comers.