With an 0 for 4 night at the plate on Tuesday, in Washington’s 1-0 loss in Miami, Bryce Harper’s slump continued, leaving him 1 for 23 over the last nine, (.043/.313/.043), though he has walked nine times over that stretch.
Dusty Baker told reporters after the Nationals’ 1-0 loss to the Marlins that he’s seen positive signs from the 23-year-old defending NL MVP.
“Boy, we had a couple times when Bryce hit the ball a ton,” Baker said.
“That’s a good sign when he hits the ball on the line like that. I know it’s tough to say, ‘Stay with them,’ and stuff, but he’s right there. He’s right around the corner, but I know he’s frustrated, we’re all frustrated, especially when you’re not scoring runs.”
Harper flew out and lined out sharply twice in his three at bats against Jose Fernandez and then went down looking at a questionable called third strike in his final trip to the plate.
The Nationals managed just four hits total on the night in what ended up being their fourth straight loss, two of them in Jose Fernandez’s final inning of work in the eighth and one in the ninth with David Phelps on the mound.
Over the course of the losing streak, Washington’s 4 for 25 with runners in scoring position.
Baker was asked what he took from the Nationals’ struggles in the last four.
“The thing I take out of it is that you quit counting and that’s what you take out of it,” Baker said.
“It seems more prevalent, especially when things happen at this time of the year, but, you know, we’re not hitting with runners in scoring position. Most times, when you’re in a four-game [losing] streak, that’s what you’re not doing, and we’re playing good defense, we run the bases good most of the time, we’re just not scoring or getting the big hit.”
What, if any, adjustments can he suggest for the Nationals’ hitters?
“We’ve talked and we’ve approached guys with everything, and the main thing, you’ve just got to get more aggressive in that situation, you know what I mean.
“You can’t hit if you don’t swing, and that’s what I’d like to see us do more, is swing early in the count.”
• We talked about the Nationals’ losing streak, Bryce Harper’s struggles and the latest Verducci report on Nats Nightly after last night’s game: