It probably didn’t matter that the Washington Nationals regressed to last week’s form in Saturday’s 11-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Even if the offense hadn’t gone 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, it’s doubtful they would have scored enough to win when the pitching staff gave up 11 earned runs.
The only National to hit safely with RISP before the ninth inning was Victor Robles, who also turned in his second straight multi-hit game, after collecting a pair of doubles in Friday’s series opener.
“It’s just a matter of him starting to understand the strike zone, and balls he can and can’t hit,” manager Davey Martinez said after the game.
“He’s getting the ball in the strike and he’s making good contact. Even the balls that he’s fouling off, he’s having good swings. It’s good to see. So, we just got to keep it going and stay on him.”
Robles began the season in the leadoff spot but was moved back down to his familiar place at the bottom of the order after a spate of outs on the base paths killed too many innings.
However, he showed some alert baserunning against Arizona, stealing second after his second-inning single and stretching a line-drive into an extra base hit in the seventh.
After coming from behind in the count against Arizona’s Taylor Clarke, Robles lined the ball toward center fielder Nick Heath and spotted Heath taking a little too much time picking up the ball. Robles turned on the jets rounding first and slid into second with a double.
“He’s running the bases well, he stole a base today, a good decision, so he’s doing well,“ said Martinez. “If he continues to do that he’s going to help us in many ways.”
Martinez said Robles’s preparation is improving.
“He’s getting ready a little bit earlier, which is kind of nice,” manager Davey Martinez said before Saturday’s game. ”It actually helps you identify pitches a little bit better.”
Robles connected with Josh Bell on second base to drive in the Nats’ second run, sending the second pitch from D-Backs’ starter Seth Frankoff to center field for a single.
Robles now has multiple hits in consecutive games after going hitless in his previous four.
“He’s starting to come around, he’s swinging the bat better, so that’s awesome,” Martinez said. “We’ve got to get him going. Like I said, if he can get on base for us down there and flip that to the top of the lineup, we’re going to score some runs.”