Through the first month of the season, the Washington Nationals offense was inconsistent to say the least. While they did finish in the top ten in runs scored in the majors for the month, they had trouble stringing hits together and coming up with the clutch hits. Their team batting average for the month of April was .236, which was 24th in all of baseball and fifth worst in the National League.
However, even with Anthony Rendon still out of the lineup, the Nats offense is locked in at the right time. In last night’s 10-0 win over the Padres, two key members of the lineup extended hitting streak with Ryan Zimmerman’s reaching nine games and Wilson Ramos up to a career high 17 games. Of course, you can’t forget about Bryce Harper, who had three hits (including his 13th home run of the season).
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On Thursday night, Washington got behind 3-0 right out of the gate. On Friday, they returned the favor as they worked the count against San Diego starter Odrisamer Despaigne and strung together hits. The Nats had the first five batters of the inning reach base and the inning culminated with four runs for Washington. Even Ian Desmond, who was 5 for his last 28 at the plate coming into the night, had two hits and a couple of RBI’s.
Let’s take a look at some of the early numbers thru the first 14 games of the month. The Nationals have the best batting average in the National League(.301), second in runs scored, third in home runs (18) and second in team on-base percentage (.353). In fact, just in the last seven games, the Nats have scored 52 runs. This includes scoring five or more runs in six of those seven games.
Even in Thursday night’s 8-3 loss, they had chances to get back in the game, but were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position. As a team, they are hitting .266 in those situations (eighth in the NL), but they have also hit ten home runs, one behind the league lead.
When you can get early runs on the board, it allows the starting pitcher to get into a groove and settle into the ballgame. That held true for Jordan Zimmermann on Friday as he gave up no runs on six hits (all singles) in six innings of work. He struck out six and walked one. With the win, Zimmermann has given up three runs or fewer and thrown six or more innings in his last six outings.
The Nats offense could take a step back depending on how long Jayson Werth is out after being hit in the wrist in the second inning last night. However, when this offense is clicking on all cylinders, it is one tough lineup to beat when most everyone is healthy.
With Span and Werth back in the lineup, I think it’s safe to say now that this offense is completely back on track. In fact, when you consider that the Nats team ERA this month is 3.79, this might be the month where the offense has to carry the pitching. It has helped the Nats get within a half game of the New York Mets for first place in the NL East.