After Washington Nationals' hitters went 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position and 12 left on base in Thursday's 6-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Dusty Baker talked to reporters about his team battling to get back in the game, but eventually coming up short.
"We were fighting back," Baker said. "We were stealing bases, we were trying to get runners in scoring position, which we did. I think we left 11 or 12 men on base.
"We had opportunities to get back in that game, it just seems like most of the year, that two-out RBI hit has been eluding us. I still am positive. I still feel we're going to get a whole bunch of them and that was kind of the ballgame."
With two outs and runners in scoring position this season, the Nationals, as a team, have a combined .221/.349/.387 line.
They went 1 for 5 overall with runners in scoring position last night, and 1 for 4 with runners in scoring position and two outs, leaving seven runners on base in what ended up a 5-3 loss to the San Diego Padres.
The Nationals' three runs came on solo home runs by Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy and a two-out RBI single to right by Wilson Ramos that drove Bryce Harper in from second in the first.
They were 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position and two out after that.
"We're not getting the big hits and we're making some untimely mistakes to some big hitters," Baker said after the Nats' second straight loss.
On Thursday, it was Dodgers' infielder Justin Turner doing all the damage, driving in five runs with two and three-run home runs off Stephen Strasburg.
On Friday, it as Matt Kemp who took Tanner Roark deep twice for a solo home run in the first and a three-run blast in the fifth that put the Padres up 5-2.
"I mean this is similar to the Dodgers, where the third baseman drove in five runs, Turner," Baker said.
"Then today, the same guy, Kemp, who you know can hit, has been hitting for years, he drove in four runs. And so it's sort of a mirror image of yesterday's game."
Baker talked again about the Nationals not getting the two-out hits that have eluded them this season.
"You can't guide the ball and you can't hit for the guys," Baker explained.
"We've just got to keep working and have a theory and philosophy on how to hit with two outs. And that's been avoiding us all year long. That's been our nemesis.
"People ask me, 'What do we need?' and we need some timely, just two-out base hits, not home runs.
"You know we're relying on the home run, which is fine, like I said yesterday, but you need some timely, two-out hits, or two or three consecutive hits which we aren't getting. You can first-to-third, first-to-third, first-to-third and it's not happening."
So, Baker was asked, do the Nationals wait things out or do they have to make changes?
"At this stage of the game, almost 2/3 of the season gone, we've got to make some changes," he said.
"Because we've been waiting and waiting and waiting and it's getting frustrating on the guys and frustrating on the fans and frustrating to us too. And so you have to be patient and you hope that we make some changes and some theories and philosophies about getting a good pitch to hit and the only thing you can do is hit it hard."
The back-to-back losses put the Nationals' skipper in an uncomfortable position last night, forcing him to do something he didn't think he'd ever have to do.
"I never thought I'd be rooting for the Mets," Baker told reporters, "but I was rooting for the Mets tonight so we don't lose ground to who's directly behind us. We'll be better. We'll be much better and I just urge everybody to -- don't panic, just let us play and we'll come out of this."
The Nationals ended the night with a 4.5-game lead over the Miami Marlins, who beat the Mets, and a 5.0-game lead over New York.
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