Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nyjer Morgan is hitting .298 with 12 steals over his last 26 games.
Morgan led off the bottom of the first by singling, stealing second, stealing third and then scoring when Brian McCann's throw sailed into left field. It set the tone for the evening and it let everyone in the ballpark know the Nats weren't simply going to roll over and play dead because Strasburg had a stiff shoulder.
"I think him getting on base immediately picked the whole ballclub up," Jim Riggleman said.
This wasn't, however, a one-time anomaly for Morgan. For more than a month now, the man who served as the Nationals' biggest goat of the first half has resurrected himself with a prolonged performance that brings back memories of his fabulous 2009.
Over his last 26 games, dating back to that June 25 game in Baltimore when he robbed Corey Patterson of a home run, Morgan's numbers are impressive across the board. He's batting .298 (31-for-104). His on-base percentage is .345. He's notched 10 RBI, matching his output from his first 70 games this season. He's stolen 12 bases while getting caught only twice. And he's played significantly better defense than we saw back in May when he had a penchant for turning deep fly balls into inside-the-park home runs.
Is this stretch alone enough to convince you all is fine with Tony Plush and convince you he is the long-term answer in center field? Probably not. We need to see him sustain this kind of performance over a period longer than one month.
But Morgan has maintained all along he's a second-half player and has a knack for picking up his game after the All-Star break. So far, he's lived up to the reputation. And that has to be an encouraging sign for a Nationals club that could use some encouraging signs right now.