Span doubles to extend streak to 23
Seven short of team record, outfielder has given Nationals a big boost
NEW YORK -- Nationals center fielder Denard Span extended his hitting streak to 23 games in Thursday afternoon's 7-2 win against the Mets, which is seven shy of tying the team record of 30 set by Ryan Zimmerman in 2009.
Span was hitless in his first three at-bats, but it was a different story against Mets reliever Frank Francisco in his fourth at-bat. Span led off the eighth with a double to left-center field and would later score on a double by Zimmerman.
During the 23-game streak, Span is hitting 37-for-96 (.385), with two home runs and seven RBIs. The Nationals are 17-6 in games he has played during that period.
"Span is the catalyst. Your leadoff guys are always the catalyst," manager Davey Johnson said. "Last year, my right fielder [Jayson Werth], who is on fire now, he led off most of the year last year and he set the tone. And that is what's happening now with Span.
"[The guys] were excited that he kept the hitting streak alive. I mean, you should have seen the bench. They were yelling, whatever, so he's key. He keeps going, we are going to keep going."
Before making his fourth appearance at the plate, Span was thinking the streak might end. But after making a diving catch on a flare by Ruben Tejada, Span started to feel confident he could get a hit in his next at-bat.
"That kind of woke me up a little, and I put a good swing on a fastball," Span said. "When I got back in the dugout, everybody was like, 'You have to do it earlier than this. You are giving us a heart attack, man.' It's fun to hear everybody is with me."
Before the game, Span was planning to do things a little differently. He was going to wear different cleats for the game, until Stephen Strasburg said, "You sure you want to change your cleats?"
Span replied: "'You know what? You're right.'
"I came back and changed my cleats. I can tell everyone is rooting for me."
One of those teammates rooting for Span is Zimmerman.
"Denard is one of those guys that wasn't doing what he was capable up of during the middle of the year -- like a lot of us were," Zimmerman said. "You have to credit him for continuing to work hard, coming out ready to play every day. The last month and a half, he has been doing great. He is getting on base, getting hits. It's fun to have a guy like that at the top of your order."
Tempers flare a bit as Werth hit by pitch
NEW YORK -- Did Mets reliever Frank Francisco have something against Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth? In the eighth inning of the Nationals 7-2 victory on Thursday, Werth was hit in the back by Francisco on a 3-0 count.
Werth was clearly not happy, and catcher Anthony Recker and home plate umpire Jim Reynolds prevented Werth from going to the mound. Later, both Werth and Bryce Harper tried to take out shortstop Ruben Tejada, who was trying turn two double plays hit by Harper and Ian Desmond, respectively.
"It's a good thing we don't see him again," manager Davey Johnson said of Francisco.
Werth declined to comment, but Francisco said he did not try to hit Werth on purpose.
"It was 3-0. Obviously I can't locate my pitches," Francisco said. "He can say whatever he wants. I was trying to locate my pitches and obviously I was all over the place. I haven't hit a guy in two years, bro."
Under further review, LaRoche hits No. 20
NEW YORK -- Thanks to instant replay, Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche was able to hit his 20th home run of the season against the Mets on Thursday.
With one out in the second inning and right-hander Aaron Harang on the mound, LaRoche hit a ball to deep left field. Mets outfielder Eric Young Jr. climbed the left-field fence, but the ball went over his glove and bounced back onto the field for a double.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson believed the ball hit above the orange line on top of the fence, which would make it a home run. The play went under review, and after three minutes and 24 seconds, the umpires overturned the call and ruled that LaRoche hit a home run, giving the Nationals a 2-1 lead.
Cedeno opening eyes with prowess vs. lefties
NEW YORK -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson was impressed by what he saw from left-hander Xavier Cedeno in Wednesday's 3-0 victory over the Mets.
Johnson is looking for a lefty who can shut down left-handed hitters. Triple A Syracuse manager Tony Beasley told Johnson that Cedeno could handle lefty hitters better than Ian Krol, who has a 6.00 ERA after the All-Star break. Cedeno struck out Daniel Murphy and was able to get Lucas Duda to fly out to right fielder Jayson Werth.
"It was great. Everything was working for me," Cedeno said.
After the game, Johnson gave the impression the team will see more of Cedeno for the rest of the season.
"[Cedeno] did a great job. I like the way he went after those two guys," Johnson said. "He'll get more work. That was a big thing in the ballgame."
Cedeno is in his fifth Major League stint with the Nationals this season. He said he understood why he had often been sent back to Syracuse.
"They own the team and they decide what they want to do. We just have to keep grinding, make appearances, whatever they want and just keep working hard," Cedeno said. "As a player, I never give up. I love this game. I want to be part of the team. That's what keeps you going every time."
Davey on Mets days: 'A lot of fun'
NEW YORK -- It was 10:15 a.m., and Nationals manager Davey Johnson was walking around Citi Field. While he was exercising, Johnson had flashbacks of his experiences while working for the Mets.
Johnson worked for the Mets organization from 1981 to 1990. He managed in their Double-A affiliate, and then worked his way up to the Major Leagues, where he guided the Mets to a World Series title in 1986.
"It wasn't just here in New York. I really had a good time managing in their Minor League system," Johnson said, "... I had a lot of fun over here wearing that uniform."
Asked if it brought tears to his eyes, Johnson said, "Not tears. It would make my day if we sweep them here. It would make my year."
A day after outfielder Bryce Harper went 1-for-4 in a 3-0 victory over the Mets, manager Davey Johnson was concerned about Harper going into the dugout and breaking his bat after striking out in the eighth inning. He then angrily put his helmet in the helmet rack.
"I was more worried during the game when he started tearing up the helmet," Johnson said. "He expects himself to do well every time up. Sometimes, it doesn't happen that way. He takes it out on something. He needs to quit that."
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.