Individually, you can decide how much you choose to make out of the Nationals’ offensive explosion this weekend.
Yes, it came against the Phillies, who own the fifth-worst team ERA in the majors. Yes, it was just three games, which in no way means that the Nats have snapped out of their season-long offensive funk and gotten on track.
Some of you might choose to view this as the start of something positive, a sign that the bats are waking up down the stretch. Others might brush off the offensive performance this weekend and say we should wait for this upcoming weekend’s series against the Braves (who have a 3.21 ERA as a team) before determining that the Nats have turned even the slightest of corners offensively.
Regardless, it’s hard to ignore the dramatic offensive improvements we saw out of the Nationals this weekend, even if it was just three games against the Phillies.
Entering last weekend’s series, the Nats had scored more than five runs just twice in their previous 19 games. They topped that five-run mark all three games against Philadelphia over the last three days.
As a team, the Nats hit .353 in this series. They had 11 extra-base hits in the three games and went 15-for-34 (.441) with runners in scoring position.
Again, let’s not read too much into those numbers, but they’re a start.
“I sense that overall as a team we’re a little more aggressive, from top to bottom,” manager Davey Johnson said. “That’s always been the key here. The guy that’s the most aggressive, any time during the count now and who prides himself on taking a lot of pitches, is Jayson Werth. He’s hit first pitches and smoked them, but he’s been kind of a shining example of how we need to hit. He’s been very impressive.”
Werth continued his absolutely torrid last six weeks by going 7-for-12 with a home run, four RBIs and two walks during this series. In 10 games against the Phillies this season, Werth is hitting .459/.512/.784 with four homers, 11 RBIs, five walks and nine runs scored.
Decent numbers, I guess.
Werth isn’t alone, however. Wilson Ramos went 6-for-12 with three RBIs in this series against the Phillies and now has his season average up to .294. Denard Span went 5-for-14 over the last three days and drove in three runs. Ian Desmond had a multi-hit performance each game in the Phillies series. Anthony Rendon has snapped out of a month-long skid and has at least one RBI in six of his last eight games.
The Nats also showed signs of life against left-handed pitching this weekend for the first time in seemingly forever.
They put up 14 earned runs on Phillies left-handers over 14 2/3 innings of work in this series, which is a shocking performance from a team that is still hitting a major league-worst .222 against southpaws this season.
It won’t erase months of futility, but it will get the guys in the clubhouse feeling confident in their offensive approach again as they head into the final six weeks of play.
“For me, that’s what we need to do,” Ramos said. “We have to concentrate and go out there and fight. We don’t have time. We have to make adjustments, we have to keep playing like that.”