In his first at-bat of this afternoon’s game, Ian Desmond bunted for a base hit and then stole second base, even after he was picked off by Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia.
“Just trying to get something going,” Desmond said. “A little spark here or there. You never know. Anything can turn into a snowball.”
In Desmond’s final at-bat of the game, when he represented the tying run in the eighth inning, Desmond swung through three Trevor Rosenthal fastballs, with each swing bigger than the last.
“I swing for big-time contact every time,” Desmond said. “It is what it is. Sometimes you hit it. Sometimes you miss. But you gotta keep on swinging.”
The Nationals will try pretty much anything at this point with their offense struggling as badly as it is right now. They’ll drop down bunts, they’ll swing for the fences, they’ll hit and run with a catcher at first base.
They’ll even consider going the unorthodox route.
“I think somebody was talking about (former Bulls and Lakers coach) Phil Jackson the other day,” Jayson Werth said. “We need to call him up, have him come in here and burn some sage or something. We’re not very feng shui right now.”
The runs aren’t coming naturally, and the Nats will openly admit that they’re trying to push the issue probably a bit too much.
“We’ve been pressing,” Werth said. “We’ve been trying to do too much. That’s a common side effect. It’s just one of those things. It’s early. It’s not as bad as it seems. Somebody said last night it feels like we’re 0-20, but it’s not that bad. We’re only one game under .500 and it’s April. We’ll be all right.
“What we’re going through, it’s the first time this team has dealt with expectations, and there’s something to be said about that. But we’ll adjust. The league has adjusted to us, we’ll adjust to the league. We’ll be fine. We’ve got too much talent.”
As has been mentioned previously, there’s a fine line between trying to make something happen and pressing. You want to force the opposing pitcher and defense into uncomfortable situations, and you do so by making things happen on the basepaths and hitting balls to the gap. But when you’re trying to crush a ball to the wall, when you’re trying to force the action, it all can backfire.
“Everyone in here wants to win. That’s good,” Desmond said. “You got guys that want to get the job done. They want to succeed. That’s what you want. It is a fine line. When it goes good, it’s great. When it doesn’t go good, everyone kinda questions what you’re doing.
The whole topic of expectations is an interesting one. The Nationals have never been in this position before - expected to win the division and make a deep push into the playoffs - and some wonder whether that is putting pressure on this group.
The players don’t seem to feel that’s the case.
“No. I think we got the expectation on us for a reason,” Desmond said. “Three years ago, we’re sitting at 10-10 and people are kinda excited. So, obviously, we came out and last year we played good baseball and got a good group of guys, we have good players.
“We want that expectation. We played for it. We busted our butts for it to get it. And now, go out and play, a little time, and we’ll be right back where we were.”