Luis García hit fifth in the lineup in the first two games in Atlanta, and he’d hit in the middle or the bottom of Washington’s order since he came up on June 1st, but Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez moved the 22-year-old shortstop to the leadoff spot in the series finale in the Braves’ home, and he liked what he saw.
García went 0 for 4 with two Ks and a walk (which was just his second free pass in 145 plate appearances since he was called up) in the 4-3 loss in extra innings in Truist Park.
“He walked,” Martinez said with a laugh when asked about his leadoff man. “He got good pitches to hit. He’s just got to — like I said with him — he’s just got to get the ball up. I talked to him before the game about not trying to — get your walks, and just go up there and hit, but get the ball up. Look for fastballs like he always does. He had some balls to hit. Hit a ball hard to shortstop today. He did walk. But I kind of liked it. So we’ll give it a whirl here for a while and see what happens.”
García finished the Nationals’ road trip with a .298/.310/.433 line, 11 doubles, a triple, and two home runs in the majors this year,
Martinez’s club went just 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position and nine left on base in the one-run loss, the Nationals’ 10th loss in the last 11 games. He said afterwards what he has been saying for a while now about the need to get the bats going.
“We’re hitting into a lot of double plays,” Martinez said, after five in the series in Atlanta gave them 88 total on the year, the most in the majors. “We got to start getting the ball up in the air in situations, we got to start driving in runs with guys on third base with less than two outs, that’s a big part of the game.”
All three of the Nationals’ runs came on a three-run home run by Lane Thomas in the sixth, which was one of the club’s two hits with RISP in the game.
What’s not working in those spots?
“We’re not getting the ball in the air. We’re hitting too many ground balls,” Martinez said. “And we talk about it. We got to start getting the ball up, like I said yesterday, and start hitting the ball in the air. Like I said, there’s certain moments in the game where you got to sacrifice yourself to get the runner on base, to move the guy over, things of that nature. We got to do a better job of doing that.”
How does he approaches questions of approach with the team as a whole?
“We keep working on it,” he said. “We talk about it, these guys understand it. We just got to do it. I mean, like I said, and especially in those situations like that, one run either way — you could either win or lose with one run, and we just got to get the job done.”
Will the Nationals get the job done tonight? Let’s see…
HERE’S THE NATIONALS LINEUP FOR THE 1ST OF 2 WITH THE MARINERS: