After falling behind 7-0 on Saturday, the Washington Nationals rallied to score four, but fell short in the second straight loss to the New York Mets. Adam Eaton went 3 for 4 with two runs scored. Bryce Harper hit a bases-loaded, RBI single to center, and Matt Adams sent a two-run shot to right field, but it wasn’t enough in what ended up a 7-4 loss.
“They played till that final out,” Davey Martinez said after the game. “Scored a bunch of runs late. Matt hits that home run. We’ve just got to come back tomorrow. But I’ve said this before: Scoring first is key. It seems like we’re always playing from behind. When we score first, good things happen. The end result is what we want it to be. We’ve got to go out there and try to score first tomorrow, try to win tomorrow and then have a nice break.”
After one more in Citi Field, the Nationals who aren’t playing in the All-Star Game get a nice break and a chance to reset things, but after going 5-5 during a crucial stretch here before the Break, the back-to-back, defending NL East champs need to get things sorted out right quick before they find themselves too far out of the race for the division title.
As it stands, Washington is 6.5 games out and just 14-24 since June 1st.
“Offensively, it’s gotta be better,” Eaton told reporters after Saturday afternoon’s loss.
“I’ve touched on that since I’ve been back. We need to get those big hits, two-out hits, guys with runners in scoring position hits. Those are the hardest hits to get in all of baseball, but when you do them, the game looks easy. When you don’t do them, the game looks very difficult. I’d love to see the numbers for us with runners in scoring position and numbers with runners on base.”
The Nationals went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position in Friday night’s loss, which left them with a .250/.346/.400 line with runners in scoring position in 2018 before Saturday’s game, which was good for 6th/7th/9th across the line among teams in the National League, and as a team they had a .260/.345/.409 line with men on base, good 6th/4th/9th in the NL.
“I think the pitching staff has been tremendous,” Eaton continued. “I think our bullpen has been tremendous, the back end of the bullpen has been tremendous. Our defense until the last week has been top five in Major League Baseball. If you really look at it, it’s just runners in scoring position -- guys stepping up and getting that big hit. I’m guilty of it as well. I’m leaving guys out there on base. You look at last year’s numbers, I’d love to see what we hit with runners in scoring position to this point last year because I bet it’s flipped.”
With runners in scoring position last season, the Nationals had a .290/.371/.484 line, which had them ranked 1st/1st/1st in the NL.
Fangraphs.com doesn’t have a half-season split, sorry, Adam.
“When we get [Ryan Zimmerman] back and [Stephen Strasburg] back,” Eaton continued, “that’s definitely going to help as well.
“I think Zim’s leadership on the field is tremendous for us. I think when [Daniel Murphy] is running regularly and hitting like he can, I think that’s huge for us as well. I think missing that leadership has been big for us. It’s just contagious, you know? When Zim’s up there, you have that confidence in him that he’s going to be the guy to get it done, and you don’t want to be the guy that doesn’t. Like I said, I think that type of leadership is missed and we’ll be excited to get them back.”
Zimmerman and Strasburg could be back as soon as this coming Friday, but before that the Nationals have to try to win one before the All-Star Break.