It's a familiar refrain for Nats fans. "We just didn't get it done." There was no explanation for it. The Nats just weren't hitting. Then-manager, Jim Riggleman, had faith that his team would get it done, the hitting would come around. The Washington Nationals have had significantly improved results defensively, their pitching has been better than anyone expected, or, "better than anybody expected it to be outside of our organization," as D.C. GM Mike Rizzo said in a radio interview last month, but the Nats' offense? Once again last night the Nationals, now under a new manager, Davey Johnson, had to scratch, claw and cash in on the opposition's mistakes to walk away with a win in a dramatic late-inning comeback effort.
Johnson, while pleased with the results, clearly wasn't impressed with the way in which the Washington Nationals went about winning the second game of Saturday's doubleheader after a 5-3 loss in the afternoon. The Nationals' late inning rally against Pittsburgh may have culminated in a Pudge Rodriguez two-out RBI single, but it took a HBP, a throwing error on a double steal in which Brian Bixler would have been out trying for third, and two walks in the eighth for the Nationals to overcome a one-run deficit with two in the bottom of the eighth to snatch a victory away from the Pirates and their bullpen.
The Nationals were 1 for 9 on the night with RISP, with nine left on base and Pudge's two-out line drive to right in the Nats' eighth the only hit that scored a run. The other three runs the Nationals pushed across scored on groundouts and a throwing error. And that's after the Nationals had gone 3 for 8 with nine left on base during the 5-3 day game loss. Asked what he thought of his team's offense, Johnson said simply, "It was terrible."
"We had the right guys up with men in scoring position, we just didn't get it done," the Nats' Manager continued, "We had to score on ground balls in the infield, break up double plays, you know, we didn't really drive anyone in except for Pudge. I know it's going to get better, I'm optimistic. I love to score runs, I'm kind of an offensive manager, and I'm having to open up a new playbook, and it's not one I like. To have to steal, and hopefully [have the other team] throw it away to get a run across. But, we've got too many good hitters in that other room. I have all the confidence in the world, and we're going to start hitting."
"I think guys are in a good frame of mind," Johnson said, "I think guys are ready to bust out, but I hope it's soon." After last night's game the Nationals had the NL's worst team AVG (.232), worst OBP (.303), the fourth-lowest SLG (.368), and the lowest (tied w/ 3 teams) BABIP (.275) in the National League. The team was built for pitching, speed, defense and athleticism. They were going to score runs in different ways than they had in previous seasons, but late in games to scratch out close win after close win, probably wasn't exactly what the Nats had in mind.