The rallying cry for the Nationals' offense all season has been that eventually, they would be rewarded for putting men on base. The line drives that were getting caught would find open space, and players in slumps would break out with hits in key situations.
But for the first 2 1/2 months of the season, that sunny view of the Nationals' offense largely hasn't come to fruition. Part of that has been bad luck - the Nationals' .279 average on balls in play is the fourth-worst in baseball - and part of that has been poor execution; their .224 average with men in scoring position is the same mark they've got with the bases empty.
The last two days, though, have offered some signs the Nationals' fortunes might be turning around.
They sustained a six-run seventh inning Tuesday night with a series of singles, some on balls that were turning into outs earlier in the season. And last night, they had a .354 BABIP, cranking out 15 hits in a 10-0 romp over the Cardinals. Part of the reason for the blowout was that the Nationals hit four homers. But hits like the one Laynce Nix had in the seventh inning - a soft blooper that dropped in between three Cardinals defenders - weren't happening for the Nationals early this year. As a result of that, Nix was on base when Morse hit his second homer.
"I think we're moving in that direction, certainly," manager Jim Riggleman said. "We've had a lot of good at-bats, starting in San Diego, and before that a little bit in Arizona. Each place - Arizona, one (game) in San Francisco and a couple games in San Diego, and we brought that here to this series. To this point, we've had some really good at-bats and extended some innings."
They were also 5-for-10 with men in scoring position, after going 5-for-13 Tuesday night. And they had a .454 BABIP Tuesday night.
Now, two games certainly doesn't signal a trend. But it's also statistically improbable that the Nationals would fare as poorly as they had in the first part of the season. An average BABIP is .300, so they are due for a turnaround. The last two games could turn out to be the start of one.
"Maybe we're getting some better pitches, or maybe we're just not missing the pitches that we are getting to hit," second baseman Danny Espinosa said. "We weren't getting the hits. They just weren't falling in for us. Tonight, the ball was going in for us and we got some clutch hits."