Davey Martinez talked before last night’s loss about mixing things up a bit with his lineup for the series opener with the Philadelphia Phillies in the nation’s capital. Josh Harrison, who hit second in eight of the previous ten games, dropped down to No. 7, and Juan Soto, who had been working back into the lineup slowly after time on the Injured List, and had hit in the 2-hole in six straight games before a left shoulder strain shut him down for two weeks, moved back there for the first of three with Philly in Washington, D.C.
“I just wanted to get Soto up in that two-hole again,” the Nationals’ skipper explained.
“For me, all that work we put in, I think that’s the spot you kind of want him. And I wanted to get Josh Bell and [Kyle] Schwarber up there against righties, behind [Soto]. I mean, Josh [Harrison] has done a great job. I’m trying to lengthen our lineup, especially towards the bottom a little bit to see if we can get some guys on base for the top of the order. So we’ll see how it plays out.”
In what ended up a 6-2 loss, the Nationals were held off the board through five, went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position, and left 10 men on base in their third straight loss and their 6th loss in the last seven games. Bell, who went 0 for 4 with two Ks, one of them in a bases-loaded opportunity in the seventh, left six on base on the night. He’s hitting .134 on the year in his first season with the club.
Schwarber went 1 for 3 with an RBI. Soto went 1 for 2 with three walks on the night as the Phillies worked around him whenever possible.
The Nationals’ Nos. 2-6 hitters combined for just two hits, going 2 for 23 overall in the loss.
The lack of offense, early in games in particular, something of a trend for this year’s club, is only adding to the pressure for the bats to produce as the team continues to struggle to put points up on the board.
“It puts a lot of pressure on not just the offense, but also the pitching,” Martinez said.
“I mean, the pitching is going out there and they’re trying to throw up zeroes and keep us in the game. We’re going to have to score — when we score early we’re pretty good.
“Our bullpen has been doing really well. We just got to keep plugging away, and I say this every night, but as you can see, we don’t give up.
“Even tonight we had some guys on base and we keep plugging away, but we need to get one or two big hits in a moment and I believe things will turn around for us.
“We’re that close. We get 1-2 hits in a big moment, bases loaded, a couple guys on, and I think things will change for us. So we just got to keep going, keep fighting.”
HERE’S THE LINEUP THAT WILL KEEP FIGHTING THE PHIGHTIN’ PHILS:
NOTES: Here’s what Davey Martinez said in his pregame Zoom call about switching things up a bit with Andrew Stevenson leading off and Jordy Mercer starting at second with Josh Bell and Josh Harrison getting a day off today.
“I’m hoping that we can get some guys on for Trea [Turner] and [Juan] Soto, you know, and [Stevenson] hits the fastball really well. This guy [Phillies’ starter Zack Wheeler] is a 70% fastball thrower, throws his fastball early in the count a lot, so we wanted to get Stevie up there and get him in the lineup today, and then moving Mercer to nine, another guy that can hit fastballs really well, so we’re hoping to get those guys on for the middle of our lineup.”