García moves up in order for opener in Baltimore

BALTIMORE – As the Nationals start this five-game road trip up I-295 at Camden Yards, they’re hoping their offensive explosion from Sunday carries over to tonight’s game against the Orioles.

After averaging just three runs over their previous eight games, the offense jumped all over Phillies pitchers en route to a 9-3 win two days ago to end an 11-games-in-10-days homestand. 

One way manager Davey Martinez is trying to create more runs is moving one of his hottest hitters up in the lineup. For the first time this season, Luis García will bat fifth, his highest spot in the lineup this year.

“He's swinging the bat well, and we're monitoring his swings and his approach,” Martinez said of García during his pregame media session. “Looking for someone, one, to drive in some runs. Two to actually get on base with some of those other guys as well. And he's done that so far.”

That he has. Since joining the Nats on June 1, the left-handed-hitting shortstop has slashed .360/.372/.507 with five doubles, two homers, 10 RBIs, one walk, one hit by pitch and nine runs scored. He has recorded a hit in 15 of his 19 games with the Nationals this season and has reached safely in 16 of the 19. His 27 hits in June rank second in the National League and his .360 average ranks sixth.

Although the Nats went 3-11 over this most recent homestand, García actually had a very successful week. He's hit safely in 10 his last 11 games, going 18-for-45 (.400) with three doubles, one homer, four RBIs, one hit by pitch and six runs scored. He had six multi-hit games over that stretch as well, including in three of this last four.

Martinez is hoping that by moving García up in the order, guys hitting behind him will also benefit. Guys like Yadiel Hernandez and Maikel Franco could get more opportunities to hit with runners on base.

​​“​​Yeah, I want (Hernandez) and the other guys, too, (to hit with runners on base),” Martinez explained. "You know, Franco, he drives in some big runs for us as well. So maybe we get them up there. And like I said, (García) can drive in runs because he moves the baseball and he can get on base for those other two guys.”

Keibert Ruiz, Hernandez, Franco and Lane Thomas fill out the bottom of the order behind García for tonight’s series opener. It’s something Martinez is trying out to start this two-game set in between two off-days. We know García is going to continue playing shortstop every day – even with the return of Alcides Escobar from the injured list today – but if he continues producing at the plate, he might force his manager to keep penciling him higher up in the lineup.

“We'll see how he does,” Martinez said. “It doesn't mean that he's gonna stay there. I might end up moving him back. But for today with the way this matches up, kinda like him in that five hole.”

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