Manager Matt Williams said earlier this week that nine-run games are rarities, and that if a team could score that many runs every game, they would be champions.
Of course, every team would love to score that many times every game out. The pressure would be taken off the pitchers and the team would have much easier games. It is so easy to say, but much harder to accomplish, especially without your top offensive producers.
I saw another statistic this week that makes sense as to where the Nationals are offensively. When scoring four or more runs, that Nationals are 20-1. That is 21 of their 47 games played.
These past two games are examples of the Nationals’ inability to finish chances presented. The team has been unable to get that clutch two-out hit.
Losing games 2-1 and 3-1 gives the feeling that this team is not near its potential offensively. Situations where they would normally get two, three or four runs are passing without an impact on the game. Bases loaded in the eighth, two men on in the ninth last night jump off the page.
One solution is maybe playing Ryan Zimmerman in the outfield when he returns next month.
Before Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper return, the Nationals must look to create offense by being aggressive at the plate and on the basepaths like they did Tuesday.
Outfielder Denard Span did that this week with a 5-for-5 performance in a 9-4 win over the Reds. Cincinnati committed four errors in the game, most of them because of what the Nationals, and in particular Span, was doing on the basepaths.
“That is something that Matt preached, even in spring training, even with everybody full strength, to put pressure on the other team,” Span said Tuesday night. “We never want them to be comfortable. Whenever we’re on base or whenever we’re up to the plate, they need to be aware that we might take the extra base or we’re going to take chances.”
Span said Tuesday’s outburst was critical to the type of game he wants to play the whole season and he hopes he can repeat that style of play.
“That is big for me,” Span said. “I just have to trust my instincts. For whatever reason (Tuesday), I just trusted my instincts, I wasn’t afraid to make a mistake.”
Williams agreed the next day. He said it has always been important for the team to find a way to get on base besides cranking extra-base hits all over the park. The Nationals have to bunt, they have to steal bases, even when the big hitters that are on the DL return.
“You have to manufacture sometimes, that’s part of it,” Williams said. “Early on in the season, we did alot of that. (Hitting coach) Rick Schu got (t-shirts that say) Nats Cable Company, and we thought about changing that to Nats Bunting Company because there was a lot of that early.
“That is part of manufacturing when you don’t have your main guys (and) sometimes you have to do the little things to help you win games, especially against somebody like (Red starter Johnny Cueto). Against Cueto you are not going to get many opportunities so you have to take advantage of it.
“It is part of the DNA that we have. It is part of the ability we have as a club that guys can do that. It doesn’t mean that when you have Zim, LaRoche and Ramos in the middle of your lineup that you don’t continue to manufacture and provide opportunities for those guys.”
Williams said all of the manufacturing that the Nationals want to do begins with the leadoff man, Span.
“It is part of his game and he needs to use it and he has,” Williams concluded.
How about Span Manufacturing Compan” t-shirts? You would expect Williams to like the ring of that.