Holt and Harrison add spark to offense after rough week

In the Nationals’ two-game sweep of the first-place Tampa Bay Rays to begin this week, a pair of recently acquired veterans played big parts in the club’s success in generating offense.

Brock Holt went 4-for-8 with two doubles and two runs scored. Josh Harrison added two hits, going 2-for-7 with a walk, a run scored and two RBIs as the Nats beat the Rays 6-1 and 5-3.

On Monday, as Juan Soto, Luis García and Howie Kendrick sat out with injuries, manager Davey Martinez opted to put Holt in the No. 3 hole for the first time this season as his designated hitter and catcher Kurt Suzuki as his cleanup hitter.

Holt-Slides-Safely-Into-Home-Gray-Sidebar.jpgFor one night, the unorthodox pairing worked well. Martinez said there was a method to his madness in the middle of his order that night, wanting guys who make contact to fill those gaps.

“100 percent,” Martinez said Monday night. “I want a guy that I know is going to move the baseball in certain situations. I like Brock there (No. 3). Suzuki is always moving the baseball, so put those guys in the middle and see what happens after that.”

Suzuki’s key RBI double early on Monday lifted the Nats to a 3-0 lead.

Harrison has started at second base two nights in a row, replacing García, who has been nursing a sore heel. Suzuki says the additions of veterans who have had success and been starters for other teams is key to the Nats staying lively on offense.

“It’s very valuable to have those players on your team,” Suzuki said. “I think it gives Davey a little more options. You can mix and match a little bit more. He can give guys off a little bit more. Just you got guys that can play all over the diamond and they are not just fill-ins. These guys can play. They’ve been All-Stars before and they’ve been in the big games and things like that. It’s always a luxury to have those type of players on any team. We are really happy to have them on our team.”

Holt arrived after struggling with the Brewers, hitting .100 in the first few weeks of this shortened season. But the veteran, who played well for the Red Sox for many years, rebounded this past week and carried that good rhythm into the Rays series. Holt has hit .429 with four doubles and two RBIs so far in September with the Nats. Suzuki said Monday night he is not surprised to see Holt get it going at the plate.

“He’s a great baseball player,” Suzuki said. “I’ve been playing against Brock for the last six years in the big leagues. I was super pumped when I found out that we signed him. He didn’t get off to a great start in Milwaukee, but this is a weird season. I always admired the way he played the game from the other side playing against him.

“I always thought he was a tough out, puts the ball in play. He can play all the positions. Great teammate. Obviously, now really getting to know him he’s as advertised. Everybody says he’s great teammate and now being with him, he’s been fun to have around and be in the lineup. He’s like a little spark plug for us.”

Similar to what Gerardo Parra or Asdrúbal Cabrera provided last season, Holt and Harrison can play multiple positions and contribute at the plate. For the Nats to finish strong, the club will need the unlikely pair to be a part of the offense so that Soto and Trea Turner don’t always have to be the ones that do the heavy lifting.

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