Kurt Suzuki and his Nationals teammates have to up their clutch quotient if they want to stay off the golf course for the winter. (Image: Joy R. Absalon, Getty Images)

Nationals Have One More Chance To Pick Up Lacklustre Offense

Get em on, get em over, get em in.

It seems incomprehensible that the team with the best record in baseball is having trouble fulfilling all three tenets of this saying, and yet here, we are, after three games of the National League Division Series and the Washington Nationals are 27 outs from packing up the equipment for good.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about it is it’s not like the Nationals aren’t getting guys on, and they’re doing a decent job of getting em over as well. The sticking point has been getting em in, Exhibit A as to why it’s the St. Louis Cardinals who are on the verge of advancing in this series.

Granted, the Washington pitching staff hasn’t exactly been lights out in this series, especially in the two losses, having surrendered 18 runs on 27 hits — including 14 extra-base knocks. But you can’t outpitch a zero, which is what the Nationals put on the board against Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals in Game 3, and that was just the continuation of a trend that started in Game 1.

On the whole, the numbers are ugly. In the three games thus far, Washington has left 30 men on base. The team’s batting average with runners in scoring position is .125 (3-for-24). The team has put the leadoff man on in an inning 12 times over the three games, and failed to plate him in eight of those innings, which is slightly below average. Add it up and you have an offense that appears to be gripping the bat handle too hard in bigger situations.

Aside from Ian Desmond, who has been stellar from the get-go, nearly every Washington hitter has been afflicted with a case of “RISP-itis.” The potential turning points in all three games stand out:

  • Jayson Werth had a chance to put a crooked number on the board in the second inning of Game 1, with one run already in and the bases loaded, but grounded out to end the threat.
  • Facing a similar situation in the sixth inning with Washington down 2-1, Werth fanned.
  • On two separate occasions in Game 2, Washington had runners on first and second with one out and did nothing.
  • Michael Morse didn’t get it done in Game 3, leaving men on first and third in the first inning and flying out with the sacks juiced in the fifth.

Add in the general poor hitting performances by Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki and what you end up with is a recipe for an early exit. The good news — ok, the not horrible news — is there’s still plenty of baseball potentially left, and the Nationals need look no further than the other NLDS to see an example of what can be done.

The San Francisco Giants scored just four runs on 12 hits through the first three games of their series against the Cincinnati Reds and were frankly lucky to not have been swept. But Game 4 produced an eight-run, 11-hit uprising that featured three home runs, and the Giants aren’t exactly the 1927 Yankees. So there is plenty of opportunity there for the Nationals to come back in this series. They just have to take advantage of it.

Tags: Cardinals Nationals St. Louis Cardinals Washington Nationals

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