Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo offered his thoughts on the early returns through the first six games when he spoke with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies in advance of the series finale with the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday afternoon, discussing the good and the bad from their first week of the 2022 campaign.
Rizzo said he saw some positive signs from the offense, with Josh Bell hitting in all seven of the games before Thursday night, Nelson Cruz hitting behind Juan Soto, and showing signs of getting things going, and Juan Soto 7 for 25 with five walks in the first seven games of his fifth big league campaign.
Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office thought going in that the lineup would put runs on the board.
“I think that when we — circle back to last season, even after the trade deadline, we scored plenty of runs to win games,” Rizzo explained, “so we felt that, offensively, if that lineup was clicking like we thought it would that we would score plenty of runs.
“Josh Bell had a rough start last year, but if you remember, he dominated in Spring Training, and then got COVID and was out for two weeks, so that was a tough start for him, but he’s a consummate guy who can drive in runs, and he’s a good complement to hit in that bunch in the middle of the lineup, and I think with [Nelson] Cruz in there it lengthens the lineup, and I think that if and when we get the bottom of the lineup progressing and adding to the on-base percentage and that type of thing you’ll really see this offense take off.”
Though they dropped 3 of 4 in the season-opening series with the New York Mets, the Nats beat the defending World Series champs in 2 of 3 games in Atlanta, and had a happy flight to Pittsburgh for the start of the four-game set with the Pirates which began with last night’s 9-4 loss in PNC Park.
“You go in Atlanta and you win 2 out of 3, yeah, you do get on the bus and the plane, you know, heading to the new city with some kind of enthusiasm and momentum, but then here we are today playing another game against the Pirates which we have to be ready for. I watched a lot of stuff last night on the Pirates, and they’ve got very good young players, they’re a very good team, pitching is solid, so we got to play baseball, consistent baseball like we’ve been playing.”
The Nationals’ offense put three runs up early in last night’s game, but the Pirates scored a run in the bottom of the first, four in the third, and added four more along the way to a win.
Will the Nats even things up tonight?