They haven’t done it often this season, but did the Washington Nationals come-from-behind 12-9 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday remind the club that they have the ability to rally from early deficits?
“We’ve — I think our lineup and our offense is a lot better than what we’ve done, obviously,” Ryan Zimmerman said after a 3 for 5 game in which he hit a 3-run home run which put the Nationals up 9-6 after they fell behind 6-1 early then rallied to take the lead.
“You really dive into some of the numbers, I was talking with Six, the assistant hitting coach [Pat Roessler], and a lot of our numbers with runners in scoring position and things like that, we’ve been a bit unlucky.
“We always say you have to make your own luck, you can make excuses with numbers as much as you want, but our average on balls in play has been lower than league average, which means you really haven’t gotten many of those bloop hits, or you’re hitting line drive outs, and things like that. So that’s where having a veteran team and a veteran lineup, you don’t panic, you just stick with it. You stick with your approach and you understand that things don’t always even out, but you’re due for some good luck. So you just got to keep going and that’s what we did, and today was a perfect example of that.”
Wait a second? Has Zimmerman embraced analytics? He is talking about BABIP there, right?
“Well, I did it without saying that stupid word,” Zimmerman said. “But yes, it was. BABIP and exit velocity are the only two I like because it’s the only two that help me out.”
Josh Harrison had the other big hit for the home team on Saturday, a third-inning grand slam that was only the Nationals’ 7th hit in 42 at bats with the bases loaded this season.
Their .167 AVG with the bases loaded this season after Harrison’s slam is 29th out of 30 MLB teams.
But Harrison got all of a 2-2 changeup up in the zone and over the middle of the plate from left-hander Bruce Zimmermann and hit his first career grand slam out to center to make it 6-5 Orioles before the Nationals tied it up and took the lead in the fourth.
“I actually gave a good fist-pump in that moment,” manager Davey Martinez said of his reaction to Harrison hitting the slam. “But it was huge. Big at bat for us and a big homer obviously for us, but I know from the beginning at Spring Training, I said we’re going to have our moments with these guys. Every one of these guys can hit the ball out of the ballpark. And today it was Josh. Every day it’s going to be somebody different, we understand that, but it was a good team win today.”
In spite of their struggles with men on base and in scoring position this season, Harrison said he didn’t let the pressure to produce get to him.
“That’s our job not to put pressure on ourselves. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s a situation where baseball is going to present you with that opportunity. Last night it happened to me, runner on second I lined out to second, I come back up again, I got runners on I think first and second and I got the job done, and then same thing today, I had first and second, I hit into a fielder’s choice, and next at bat I was bases loaded. So it’s not a matter of hanging your head, because just because you don’t get it done one time doesn’t mean that you can’t the next, you got to have a short memory because each at bat is its own and baseball is a game that will give you multiple opportunities.”
The Nationals have an opportunity to sweep the three-game set with the Orioles today, in the 1:05 PM ET series finale.