The day before the All-Star break is always a slow one. It’s especially slow when playing a noon game after a night game that included an hour and 17-minute rain delay.
Guys are packing their bags to head home for the break and making sure all of their gear is ready to be shipped to meet the team in St. Louis at the end of the week.
So let’s talk more about the Nationals’ biggest development over this weekend, shall we?
Joey Meneses’ swing may be back.
After only hitting two home runs over the first 87 games of the season, he hit three in less than 24 hours in the previous two. Over the first two games against the Rangers, Meneses has gone 4-for-8 with a double, three homers, four RBIs and no strikeouts.
His third longball of the weekend – so far – came in the first inning of last night’s 8-3 win to stake the Nats to an early 4-0 lead. Facing Rangers lefty starter Andrew Heaney, Meneses launched a 93 mph fastball 368 feet to left field for his fifth of the year.
“That pitch was a pitch middle-in and I was kind of looking for it,” Meneses said, via interpreter Octavio Martinez. “He had thrown two sliders away from me for balls. So I was trying to look for something middle-in. And he threw it there, so I connected well.”
Meneses has been connecting well a lot lately. While sitting for four games in less than two weeks, the designated hitter was working on his swing and approach at the plate, and he’s starting to see the results.
“He's staying back and using his legs,” manager Davey Martinez said. “We talked about him, he's been working on not jumping out there. He's staying behind the ball and you can see that the power is coming now. So it's awesome. We got to continue to work with him and let them understand that he needs to use his legs to hit.”
Meneses has still been one of the Nats’ most clutch hitters even without some of the power numbers. He ranks third in the National League with a .407 batting average with runners in scoring position, eighth with 94 hits and 13th with a .284 average. And he is tied for first in the major leagues with a .467 average against right-handers with runners in scoring position.
But he would still like to see more power numbers come now that he has hit three homers in two days. He thinks getting the ball in the air can be somewhat contagious for him, as he hopes to carry this success into today’s first-half finale and the second-half of the season starting next weekend.
“Yeah, I think so,” Meneses said. “I feel like when those at-bats start coming, I feel a little bit more confident. I start feeling good. I get in these little streaks where I get a little hot and my swing starts going in that direction. I feel good and confident, and that's what gets it going.”