WASHINGTON -- By avoiding any major roster overhauls before Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline passed, the Nationals believed they were sending a vote of confidence to their talented yet underachieving roster, even though not much about their performance on the field during the season's first four months inspired such. Instead, they drew that confidence from their track records and bet that after winning the National League East the past two seasons, they were talented enough to rally and capture a third straight division title.
The Nats responded to that confidence with a historic performance, as they handed the Mets a 25-4 shellacking on Tuesday night at Nationals Park. The 25 runs are the most in a Major League game since 2007, when the Rangers beat the Orioles, 30-3. Twelve Nationals, including all nine members of the starting lineup, collected at least one hit as the team combined for 26 hits during the biggest offensive outburst in club history.
"I think any team needs games like that," said first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who finished 2-for-5 and became the franchise's all-time hits leader in the first inning. "Those are fun games to be a part of. Obviously, we did a lot of things right at the beginning of the game and just kept it going. Hopefully, we can continue on with that momentum and go out there and just have some fun."
The win pulled the Nationals back to .500 at 53-53. However, it did not get them any closer in the NL East. Both the Phillies and Braves won Tuesday, keeping the Nats' deficit in the division at 5 1/2 games.
Washington sent 12 batters to the plate and collected eight hits during a seven-run first inning, which included a bases-clearing double by starter Tanner Roark. It was enough to knock Mets left-hander Steven Matz from the game before he made it out of the first inning; he was charged with all seven runs.
Then, Washington continued to pile on.
The Nats scored at least three runs in each of the first six innings and a six-spot in the eighth with Mets infielder Jose Reyes on the mound. Daniel Murphy continued to punish his former team as he went 3-for-4 with a pair of home runs and six RBIs. Trea Turner went 4-for-6, Mark Reynolds added a three-run homer and Matt Adams hit a two-run homer in the ninth. Given the comfort of a big lead, Roark spun another strong outing with seven innings of one-run ball, recording seven strikeouts.
"They came out to play today," manager Dave Martinez said. "Good at-bats all day, and Tanner pitching the way he pitched was awesome. Just an all-around good day. It's been an emotional day, and it was a good way to end it."
This was the kind of answer the Nats were hoping for as they try to climb back into the race in the NL East. The only move they made at the Deadline was to ship right-hander Brandon Kintzler to the Cubs; they'll miss the bullpen arm, but they avoided a major rebuild because they believed they were still capable of reaching their potential.
"I think it tells the team that we believe in the squad we have," general manager Mike Rizzo said prior to the game. "The 25 guys in that clubhouse, we felt all along have a chance to win this division. We're the two-time defending champs. We've got the bullseye on our back and the crown our head, and until someone takes it away from us, we're still the champs."
ZIMMERMAN BECOMES ALL TIME HITS LEADER
Zimmerman has racked up a number of accolades lately, becoming the franchise leader in home runs, RBIs and doubles. Still, it was special for him to move ahead of Tim Wallach to become the franchise's all-time leader in hits at 1,695. Zimmerman received a standing ovation and a curtain call from the crowd of 35,029.
"I think just being able to play my entire career in one place, the relationship I've had with the organization the whole time. You don't have the ability to play in one place if there's not a good relationship both ways," Zimmerman said. "A player obviously wants to play here, but the organization has to want you here as well to be here for 13 years or however long it's been. Obviously proud of it. It's a nice accomplishment, but I think more should be about being able to be here as long as I can. I respect that a lot more than the actual record, I guess."
The Nationals scored the most runs by a team without the designated hitter since Aug. 18, 1995, when the Cubs scored 26 runs at Colorado. Washington also became the first team without a DH to have all nine starters score multiple runs since the Yankees did so on May 24, 1936.
HE SAID IT
"I think as a ballclub you do take confidence in that. That ownership, the front office, has belief in the 25 men we have here. We played well tonight. We'll look to do the same again tomorrow." -- Murphy, on the front office mostly standing pat at the Trade Deadline
"I'd rather keep the team together. Really good group of guys. Obviously, there's still a lot of baseball left. We're not in an ideal situation, but we are in the situation that we're in. It's not an impossible situation. We've been ahead a lot of games and been behind a lot of games before too. This is a crazy game, and nothing's over until you're eliminated." -- Zimmerman, on the keeping the team together at the Trade Deadline
Tommy Milone (0-0, 5.40 ERA) will start in place of the injured Stephen Strasburg during Wednesday afternoon's series finale against the Mets. Milone appeared in 11 games (five starts) for New York last season, posting an 8.56 ERA. This will be his second start of the year for the Nats, and he will match up against Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard (6-1, 2.89), who will be activated from the disabled list. First pitch is slated for 12:05 p.m. ET.