Eaton struggling without fans in the stands

For the Nationals to return to the power offense they enjoyed when they were really rolling in 2019, the club needs the top of the lineup to get on base.

Trea Turner and Adam Eaton are keys to the offense, setting the table for Juan Soto, Howie Kendrick, Asdrúbal Cabrera and Eric Thames.

Unfortunately, the pair has not been in sync for extended periods of time at the beginning of this shortened season.

Turner has been coming around. Now riding a nine-game hitting streak after Sunday's 3-for-3 performance with a triple, a hit-by-pitch and three RBIs in the Nats' 9-3 win over the Marlins. The shortstop is hitting .457 during this run and has been on base at least once in each of the last 15 games.

Thumbnail image for Eaton-Hits-White-Day-Sidebar.jpgDifferent story for Adam Eaton. He started off well in July, hitting .296 with a home run on opening day against the Yankees. But in August, he has hit only .200. So Sunday was a big deal for Eaton and the team when he connected on an important two-run double and also walked in his next at-bat.

"I harp on this all the time," said manager Davey Martinez on a postgame Zoom video call. "When we stay in the middle of the field we are really good. When Trea and Adam Eaton do their thing up at the top of the lineup we score runs. They both did well today. Adam swung the bat really well. He started better yesterday, he hit a bullet to right field. Hopefully, this gets him going a little bit. But those two guys are the catalyst. When they go, we go, and you saw it today. We got one of our young kids, Luis García, hit the ball really well. All these guys had good at-bats and worked good at-bats. I'm proud of the guys. Come back again, do it tomorrow."

García also added three hits on the day. It was the first time the team had scored nine runs or more since Aug. 14, and only the third time all season.

Eaton said the shutdown between spring training and the summer training startup in July really took its toll on him and his rhythm. He also believes that without any fans in the stadium he is a different player.

"It's been difficult for me, and I know with other guys as well," Eaton said. "Just kind of finding that adrenaline. I'm kind of an adrenaline junkie, getting ready for the game, getting pumped up and getting going. For me, it's been kind of hard to find that type of rhythm again with no fans. It's been kind of a weird year for me, with the training in the sleepier months of covid-19 earlier on, trying to train. Trying to get up to speed as quick as I can. I feel like I have been feeling better as of late. Hopefully, I can build on today."

Eaton now has four hits in his last four games, including a pair of doubles. He has struck out 21 times already this season in 87 at-bats. If he can get back to swinging at strikes and making good contact, the top of the order for the Nats will once again be in a rhythm needed to generate some big-time offense.

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