Josh Bell has hit six of his 18 home runs on the season in the last 15 games, including his 442-foot blast to center off Zack Wheeler in the eighth inning of last night’s loss.
Bell has not necessarily hit for average over that stretch, going 12 for 50 (.240/.296/.640) since July 19th, but he’s continued to hit for power, continuing a strong stretch which has followed the slow start to his first season in Washington after this winter’s trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
And that home run last night? His manager said he hasn’t seen too many hit to the second deck below the scoreboard in Nationals Park, especially the center field side.
“Not up there, no,” Martinez said.
“That was almost straight-away center in the upper tank, so yeah, when he hits them, man, he hits them far. He’s put some good swings on. Unfortunately, yesterday I thought he had some really good swings, he just put that ball on the ground. Today, he got that ball in the air.
“You look back to where he started, as we all know, he’s hitting .120 for almost a month, and to see what he’s doing now has been pretty impressive.”
Bell finished the first month of the season with a .113/.200/.264 line, but since the start of May, the 28-year-old slugger has put up a .276/.333/.518 line, producing like the Nationals were hoping he would when they traded for him.
Bell’s home run last night got the Nationals within one, but the Phillies held on for a 5-4 win and took the second straight in D.C.
“We definitely had our chances tonight,” Bell said after the loss, in which he went 1 for 4 against Philly righty Zack Wheeler.
“I was just happy to be able to see him that last AB and be able to hit a ball in the air there and drive it over the fence, but he definitely gave us a couple of chances.”
Bell’s part of a significantly different team than the one that started the season, but he said that the new players and those who remain after the Nats’ fire sale at the trade deadline last week are starting to form their own bonds as they move forward.
“Yeah, I mean, I feel like the overall vibe in the clubhouse is — we got new guys on the roster, younger guys, but everyone is hungry, everyone is excited for their chance to come up and hopefully make a name for themselves here, so it’s just that next man up mentality and we’re going to ride with it.”
Tonight, they’ll try to avoid a third straight loss to the Phillies and set themselves up for a split of the four-game set in D.C.