Inconsistent offense needs spark Rendon provides

The Nationals’ only run in Friday’s opening series 2-1 loss to the Indians came on a bases-loaded wild pitch in the third inning.

Cleveland’s Justin Masterson was able to strike out 10 batters. Indians pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts.

The Nationals managed just two hits, from Ryan Zimmerman and Steve Lombardozzi. Neither of those hits came after the third inning.

The Nationals had their chances, as did the Indians, to get some scoring going.

“We had right guys up with runners in scoring position with less than two outs,” said manager Davey Johnson on MASN’s Nats Xtra. “We got to put the ball in play. We got to do better than that.”

There certainly is not a quick fix when the offense is struggling. But Johnson believes there is one thing he would like to see more of.

“Everybody has their own style of hitting,” Johnson said. “The hitters are very patient looking for pitches. I prefer to be more aggressive. That is where we are.”

Johnson wanted to give Anthony Rendon a day off, but it seems this lineup is fragile without him, or at least it lacks some form of a spark. That was the role Bryce Harper played.

When the offense was stagnating, Harper would come in and hit a couple of home runs to get it going. Rendon appears to be that player now. He had a hit in every game he had played since his return, a span of seven games. Dating back to May 2, Rendon has an eight-game hit streak.

Ironically, with Rendon’s strategy to take the first pitch most times, he was one of the more patient hitters in the lineup. But going after the first pitch isn’t necessarily the aggressiveness Johnson is looking for in the Nats’ hot and cold offense.

But just two hits in the first three frames is not going to do it. Gio Gonzalez and the rest of the pitching staff deserves more.

Johnson will continue to tinker to try to get the bats moving again. Zimmerman back at third and Rendon at second tonight would be a good start.

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