Washington’s Nationals, as a team, have a .288/.368/.458 line against left-handed pitchers this season, good 2nd/2nd/5th (tied) across the line amongst major league teams, but the club managed just four hits and one run off Atlanta Braves’ lefty Max Fried last night in the nation’s capital.
“Today, [Fried] threw a lot more two-seamers than he’s ever thrown,” Nats’ manager Davey Martinez told reporters in last night’s post game Zoom call with reporters.
“I don’t think he’s thrown very many, but he threw some two-seamers, kind of threw us off a little bit.
“He was pounding the balls in too as well. His stuff was pretty good today. He kept us off-balance, so the thing with him is we chased a little bit more than we normally do, balls up and in, with him you just got to get the ball over the plate.”
Nationals’ hitters went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position as a team, and seven left on base in the 5-3 loss to their divisional rivals.
Before last night’s game, Martinez talked about the club’s struggles with runners in scoring position this season, with the team’s .211/.313/.300 line leaving them ranked 29th/24th/29th in the majors after 26 games.
“I think a lot of it has to do with — everybody is trying to be that guy,” he explained, noting the injuries, absences, and slow starts the team has dealt with over the first month-plus.
“The good thing is is that we’re getting enough runners on base to drive in those runs,” he said. “We got to start driving them in. I talked early about getting that runner in from third base with less than two outs.
“We’ve had a lot of opportunities to do that. We haven’t done it on a consistent basis. So we just got to get better at it. And it’s more or less not trying to do too much.
“Sometimes you’ve got to just move the baseball. Yesterday we scored a run, even though we lost, where [Kyle] Schwarber hit a ground ball and we were able to score a run there.”
“Just moving the baseball at times helps out a lot.”
The message for his players, as they try to turn things around at the plate with runners in scoring position?
“I just want them to move the baseball,” Martinez said. “Especially a lot of times with two strikes, just move the ball. It’s tough to hit with two strikes, put the ball in play and put the pressure on the other team, because anything can happen when you do that. And for the most part these guys are battling, I know there’s times when you’re not scoring runs you do get up there and you’ve got an opportunity to score a lot of runs, because you see — whether the bases are loaded or guys are at first and second or second and third, and they press to try to do too much.
“Just a single in a particular moment can change the game for us. So just focus on just hitting the ball hard and stay up the middle of the field.”
They’ll try to avoid a sweep in the three-game set with their NL East rivals this afternoon in the finale of of the series in D.C. (which is available to watch on YouTube).