Davey Martinez’s club went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position and 10 left on base in the series opener with the Pittsburgh Pirates in Nationals Park on Monday night, but then Maikel Franco hit a two-run shot in the eighth to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 advantage for Washington, and the home team held on for the win.
“The at-bats definitely got to get better with runners on base,” Martinez said after earning the curly-W.
Nelson Cruz, who’d put together a solid 5 for 18 (.278/.350/.556) road trip to Baltimore and Texas, which left him 24 for 85 in 23 games in June (.282/.371/.494), hit a 409-foot flyout to left field the first time up, coming up just short of a three-run home run, and ended up with an 0 for 4 game with seven left on base in the one-run win.
“I can’t sit here — I know Nellie hit the ball hard, I thought that was a home run again, didn’t happen, but we got to have more quality at-bats with guys on base,” Martinez reiterated in the immediate aftermath of the comeback win.
As he usually does, the fifth-year manager watched the game again overnight, and he told reporters, in his pregame press conference before the second of three with the Pirates, he saw good and bad things from his offense.
“I looked at it last night, and some at-bats were good, they really were. Nelson had some good at-bats, hit the ball hard,” he explained. “For us sometimes, situational hitting, for me that’s the biggest thing. We get a guy at second base, no outs, close game like that 90 feet matters sometimes, so getting the guy over, getting the guy in from third base with less than two outs, things of that nature. These are things that we talk about often, we work on them in BP, we want to get better at them. Because you know what, in close games like this, those little things do matter, and I always talk about the little things, and those little things become really big things in situations like that.”
As he noted on Monday night, of course, a win is a win is a win, which is what he told his club.
“Hey, as I told them, a win is a win is a win is a win, right? No matter how you do it. I mean, but keep playing hard. That’s what they did tonight. And I’m happy that they came through and they did well.”
The offense put up just three runs on six hits in a 3-1 win in the second game of the series, going 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and nine left on base, but Yadiel Hernández came up big with a two-out, two-run double in the eighth for the club’s only hit with RISP last night, but it broke up a 1-1 tie and the Nationals held on for the 3-1 win.
Will they make it three-straight over the Pirates this afternoon? Let’s see...