Nationals’ hitters went 5 for 15 with runners in scoring position and nine runners left on base in the win.
On a night when Max Scherzer, without his best or A+ stuff, the Nationals got six from their starter and three scoreless from the bullpen and nine hits and six runs from their hitters.
“Our offense came through,” Baker said, but, “... it still wasn’t indicative of what the score could have been because we had bases loaded the bases in the fifth and the sixth and didn’t get anybody home with that, but it was a good one for us to win and our bullpen did an outstanding job those last three innings for Max and us.”
Ryan Zimmerman, who went 0 for 3 with a walk, K and four left on base, and is a mini-slump at 0 for 9 over his last three games, grounded into a force at second base with the bases loaded in the fourth, and Bryce Harper (0 for 4, walk, K, 6 LOB) struck out in the fifth to leave’em loaded.
On the positive side: Baker talked about the contributions from his Nos. 8-9-1 hitters.
Michael A. Taylor (No. 8), Max Scherzer (No. 9), and Trea Turner (No. 1), went 6 for 11 with a combined three runs scored and three driven in the second of four with the Cubs.
Scherzer drove in a run with an RBI single in the fourth and singled again in the fifth, and in the fourth, he didn’t have to bunt because after he stepped in with runners on first and third, Taylor stole second base. Turner stole four of the team’s seven stolen bases overall on the night, wreaking havoc on Cubs’ starter Jake Arrieta and catcher Miguel Montero.
Baker talked about what a weapon speed in the eighth and leadoff spots can be.
“It can be a great weapon when you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice bunt all the time with the pitcher batting ninth, and Michael in the 8th spot,” Baker explained, “and after that if they’re both [Taylor and Turner] on the bases then you’ve got speed all the way around and Michael has done a great job in the eighth spot since he’s been there, I mean, that’s a valuable spot, he’s driven in a lot of key runs, and when you do sacrifice bunt it doesn’t have to be a perfect bunt, but if you have a much slower person then it changes the whole dynamic of the bunt situation.
“And so, speed, I love speed, and when you have it then you have to use it.”
Team Speed takes on the Cubs again tonight with Stephen Strasburg on the mound for the Nationals against John Lackey for the visiting club.