The series is even at game apiece.
But to really get the offense going in these playoffs, the Nationals have to figure out what is going on with shortstop Trea Turner, who has yet to register a base hit in the first two games.
He is 0-for-8 at the plate with four strikeouts. That is correct, the Nats’ leadoff man, who stole 46 bases during the season, has not even been on base once in two games.
Last postseason, Turner hit .318 (7-for-22) and had a .333 on-base percentage. He stole two bases.
So has Turner just been pressing at the plate, swinging at pitches he normally waits on?
“I think I’ve had some good at-bats, I’ve had some bad at-bats and the results for the team haven’t been great because I haven’t been on base, but it’s baseball. It’s two games. All I’m focused on is winning. If it takes defense, baserunning here or there, whatever it is, I’m all for it.”
Turner reasons that the Harper and Zimmerman’s homers might help the entire team relax a bit. Prior to the five-run eighth inning Saturday, the Nats had had just four hits in their first 16 innings of these playoffs.
“For me, we’d get a hit here or there, but to put two or three together for the first time as kind of - not relieving because I don’t think we felt too much pressure - just more so just trying too hard,” Turner said. “I think that speaks for me, just trying too hard in some moments. You want to do so well, and you got to let the game come to you. I feel like, as a team, we were doing that, because with four hits up to that point and you get something rolling, it starts to all click.”
The Nats put a complete game together in Game 2. Turner said that all facets were locked in - offense, defense and pitching - which must happen for the club to get into a rhythm these next two games in Chicago.
“You play all year then you get a short window to prove that you’re the best team, and if you don’t perform in that short window then you could be going home real quick,” Turner said. “Getting that win tonight is huge.”
But the bottom line is the Nats are a totally different team, a much more dangerous team on offense, if Turner gets going. His defense has been very good. Game 3 on Monday afternoon will be his new chance to make a difference at the plate. Turner will face left-hander Jose Quintana. Turner has hit .429 with seven stolen bases in four games against the Cubs in his career, but the next two games of the divisional series will be his first professional games ever at Wrigley Field.
Programming note: Let’s talk baseball. From 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET today on 106.7 The Fan with “Nats Insider,” I will be joined by MASN’s Mel Antonen and your phone calls to 1-800-636-1067 to talk Nationals in the postseason. Join us!