John Lannan threw 5.1 innings of five hit ball and the Nationals stroked four home runs to down the Los Angeles Dodgers, 7-2 at Nationals Park on Monday. Ian Desmond led off the game with a home run, Michael Morse hit two and Jayson Werth hit one to lead the Nationals’ attack. The Nationals assault was in stark contrast to the problems they’ve been having at the plate over the last two weeks.
All of the Nationals’ homers except for one came in the first inning, and off of Trolley righty Hiroki Kuroda. John Lannan, meanwhile, threw 94 pitches in registering his ninth win against 11 losses. Lannan later said that he was anxious to go deeper into the game, but couldn’t convince Nats’ skipper Davey Johnson to keep him in. “I felt good and I wanted to keep battling,” Lannan said after the win. “But my pitch count was high. It was a hot day. Our bullpen was fresh. I understood why.”
Michael Morse’s two home runs gave him 26 for the year — to go along with 82 RBIs. The first baseman/left fielder is clearly the team’s MVP for 2011, having put together his best season of his late blooming career. Jayson Werth took time to compliment Morse after the win on Monday. “I’m really happy for him,” Werth said. “This game is not easy. We had similar parts of our career as far as the age. I can appreciate it. I think he always had it in him.” Werth’s game is also improving, after a tough 2011 and what has accounted for nearly a year-long slump. Werth hit his 18th home run of the year in the first inning, and notched his 52nd RBI.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: There’s been a changing of the guard in Florida, where the Marlins have struggled not only to put fans into the seats, but to put a good ball club on the field. The Marlins started to unravel after 6-7 fireballer Josh Johnson went out with a shoulder injury and the team cratered during a mid-June losing streak (they lost 18 of 19, and eleven in a row) that saw the rehiring of steady-as-she-goes Jack McKeon . . .
The return of Johnson will help next year, but it’s not likely to be enough. Last night on MLB Network, the irascible Larry Bowa said there had been a “changing of the guard” in Florida. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez “is no longer the face of the franchise,” Bowa said — “it’s Mike Stanton.” That sounds right. Yesterday, Ramirez was told that he will need surgery on his left shoulder . . .