Washington’s Nationals have hit into an MLB-leading 88 doubles plays in 86 games this year, and the inability to avoid them, along with the club’s struggles driving in runners came up in manager Davey Martinez’s post game press conference on Sunday, after they were doubled up twice and went 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position, in a 4-3 extra innings loss to the Atlanta Braves.
“We’re hitting into a lot of double plays,” Martinez said, “...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.”
Martinez’s club has had the seventh-most plate appearances with runners on third and less than two outs this season, and they’ve scored the runners 83 times (46.6%), which is the fifth-lowest percentage amongst MLB’s 30 teams.
It’s something they’ve talked about all season, and will continue to, Martinez said, and he discussed the club’s struggles in big, or higher-leverage, situations in his pregame press conference before last night’s game was postponed by rain in the nation’s capital.
How does he get the Nationals’ hitters to perform in those situations, and not put additional pressure on themselves to produce where they’ve failed to often this season. He suggested it’s often a team-first, selfless approach to those at-bats that’s necessary.
“Yeah, you know, for me, one is the ability for them to go out there and do what they do,” he said, “two is like, there’s a thing, and we talk about this all the time: Up to a certain point you’re up there and you’re hitting, now all of a sudden something comes awry where you consider it as a team at-bat. Getting guys over, getting guys in from third base with less than two outs. Those are big team at-bats, so for me it’s about teaching them that part of the game. Like, ‘Hey, this is not only for you, but it’s for your team. And we got to do everything we can to either get the guy over, get the guy in from third base, so it’s almost like, you don’t give yourself up, but you’ve got to understand the situation in the game. So [Hitting Coach] Darnell [Coles], myself, Six [Assistant Hitting Coach Pat Roessler], we talk about it all the time with these guys, and that’s something that we need to get better at, more the situational hitting part of it. These guys put the ball in play, we’ve seen that. We’ve hit into double plays way too much this year, so we’ve got to understand when a good time is to get the ball up in the air and when it’s not.
“These are things that I know it’s tough to do — we can talk about it, but when the game comes, but you got to start looking for certain pitches, you’ve got to know who you are in those situations, and get a pitch that you can do these things with.”
How will they do with runners in scoring position, and with their situational hitting, against the Seattle Mariners this afternoon? They play the first of two at 12:05 PM ET. Let’s see...
HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR THE 1ST OF 2 WITH THE MARINERS:
Game 1 lineup.#NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/DYr7JgXJvk— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 13, 2022