DENVER -- Before the road trip began, manager Dusty Baker was hoping for what he always hopes for -- a perfect 10. But these Nats go to 11.In Thursday's 16-5 win over the Rockies, the Nats put an 11-run seventh inning together as the exclamation point on an historic 9-1
DENVER -- Before the road trip began, manager Dusty Baker was hoping for what he always hopes for -- a perfect 10. But these Nats go to 11.
In Thursday's 16-5 win over the Rockies, the Nats put an 11-run seventh inning together as the exclamation point on an historic 9-1 road trip through Atlanta, New York and Colorado. It was the best winning percentage in a trip of 10 games or more in franchise history.
"It's what you yearn for," Baker said of the near-perfect trip, with Monday's 8-4 loss to the Rockies the only blemish. "You know you're going to score a lot of runs here, but I didn't have any idea we were going to score that many runs."
The 11-run seventh epitomizes the Nats' offensive character this season. It started with an Adam Eaton leadoff double, his second hit of the day after a solo homer to center in the fifth put Washington ahead to stay. The Nats sent a team-high 15 batters to the plate and scored a franchise-record 11 runs on eight hits and three walks.
"With our lineup, it's only a matter of time before we put up a crooked number," shortstop Trea Turner said. "I'm sure there will be times where we don't score a lot, but I think at least once a game we're going to put up a crooked number. It's how we approach at-bats, not giving anything away."
There's been no shortage of crooked numbers on a trip that saw the Nats score 79 runs in 10 games. It's the most for a Nats road trip, but it ranks second in franchise history to a 26-game road trip with 98 runs at the end of 1991, when the Expos were forced on an extended trip because of structural damage at Olympic Stadium. The three consecutive 11-run-or-better games to end the trip marks the third time the franchise has put together three consecutive double-digit games.
"Our whole team is seeing the ball well," right fielder Bryce Harper said. "They go out there and do what we need to do to win ballgames. Everybody's just grinding out at-bats. If we're behind or ahead, ahead big or behind big, we just grind the best we can and do everything possible to have great at-bats and make things happen."
Harper hit .529 (18-for-34) on the trip, with 10 walks, six doubles, four homers and 12 RBIs. His only hit in the finale -- and his only homer in the four games at Coors Field -- came in his second seventh-inning at-bat, a three-run shot into the right-field bullpen. Harper's average during the trip was the third best by a Nationals player who appeared in at least six games of a road trip since the team moved to Washington.
Daniel Murphy ended the road-trip barrage with a solo homer in the ninth, but most of Thursday's runs came via good fundamental baseball.
"We just took advantage of opportunities," Turner said. "Harp moved over a runner today. I ended up moving over a runner. We ended up scoring in those innings, and that's what's going to matter in the postseason, not necessarily all the home runs and doubles, but those little things where [you're] moving baserunners and having good ABs. We have a lineup full of guys like that."
Turner is hitting .467 (14-for-30) with five doubles, a triple, two homers and 13 RBIs since being reinstated from the disabled list on Friday in the middle of the road trip. He was 11-for-21 (.524) with a cycle in Colorado.
The 16-6 record to start the season matches the best start in franchise history, shared by the 1979 Expos. It's the best start in D.C. baseball history since the 1932 Senators started the season 17-5.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com.