Davey Martinez’s club collected a total of 11 hits in last night’s series opener with Toronto’s Blue Jays, but they were just 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position and ten left on base.
Blue Jays’ hitters combined for just seven hits, but four of them were home runs off of Nats’ starter Aníbal Sánchez, and that was enough for the visitors in the first of four between the two teams in Washington, D.C. this week.
“The solo shot, obviously, usually doesn’t kill you,” Nationals’ catcher Kurt Suzuki said after the loss, “but we obviously have to score runs as well.”
What went wrong offensively in the club’s third loss in four games early in the 60-game MLB campaign?
“We left ten runners on base,” manager Davey Martinez said, summing it up succinctly. “We did hit the ball good, which is good to see. Trea [Turner] started swinging the bat better. A lot of guys started swinging the bats.
“You know what? It was just one of those days we weren’t lucky and didn’t have that big hit we needed. We’ve just got to come back tomorrow and do it again. You’ve got to play baseball. I tell these guys, ‘Hey, you’ve got to play baseball, we’re here to play baseball, so let’s focus on the games.’”
“They hit a couple pitches that weren’t where we wanted them,” Suzuki added, referring to the four that left the yard.
“The last few days it seems like every mistake we make has been hit over the fence.”
The Nationals also made some mistakes on the basepaths, which killed potential rallies along with the lack of big hits in big situations.
Eric Thames failed to score from second on a Victor Robles’ fly to right field in the second, returning to the bag until he saw it wasn’t caught, and only advancing to third base in the one-out opportunity. Michael A. Taylor stepped in next with the bases loaded and one out, and K’d swinging, and Turner lined out.
After back-to-back singles started the Nats’ third, Howie Kendrick grounded into a 5-3 DP.
Thames singled and scored on a Suzuki double in the fourth, and Robles singled in the next at bat, but Taylor lined out to third and Robles was doubled up off the first base bag on the liner.
Asdrúbal Cabrera lined into an inning-ending DP in the fifth as well, after a one-out single by Kendrick, before Suzuki grounded into an inning-ending double play in the eighth.
What was Robles’s mistake when he got doubled up? Why did Thames fail to score from second on the double by Robles?
“In that situation you’re not going anywhere,” Martinez said of Robles getting caught off first base.
“We talked to Robles after it happened, you’ve got to freeze on a line drive. You’re not going nowhere there. Robles is one of those kids, where he’s overly aggressive all the time when he’s on the bases, but he’s got to know the situation, and Thames, you know, he hit the ball, he went to go back to the base. You don’t go back to the base there, you go halfway.
“The ball was carrying tremendously tonight. I didn’t think Victor hit the ball that well, and it hit the wall, but [Thames has] got to understand that being on second base you’re in scoring position anyway. Just go halfway with one out and see what happens.”
Will the breaks go the Nats’ way in the second of the four-game home and “home” series in Nationals Park?