3 at-bats which make the Washington Nationals hard to watch

Gerardo Parra #88 of the Washington Nationals in action against the Philadelphia Phillies during a game at Citizens Bank Park on July 26, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Nationals 6-5. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Gerardo Parra #88 of the Washington Nationals in action against the Philadelphia Phillies during a game at Citizens Bank Park on July 26, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Nationals 6-5. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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Andrew Stevenson is struggling in his role with the Nationals.
Andrew Stevenson #17 of the Washington Nationals bats against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park on July 31, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

Second at-bat

Trailing 2-0 in the top of the sixth inning, the Nationals hadn’t put too many runners on base to that point. However, a great at-bat by Riley Adams led to a walk, and pinch hitter Juan Soto drew a walk of his own. Two on-no out.

The hitter was Andrew Stevenson. Playing for one run kills a rally. I would have played for one run here. If Stevenson can bunt the runners into scoring position, the Nationals have two chances to score runs with two of their better hitters coming up. Even if they can’t get a hit, a productive out scores the runner from third making it a one run game. The Nationals have three innings to produce a solo run, and one swing of the bat can do that.

Stevenson looked at strike-one, no problem. Morton had walked the previous two hitters, so Stevenson needs to be sure Chuck can still find the zone. Stevenson then flails at back-to-back curve balls, making a quick return to the dugout. Big problem. The runners do not advance, and Morton is now a ground ball double play from getting off the hook.

Pressure has to be put on Morton here. From this point in the game he had yet to throw a pitch with a runner on third base. Stevenson is fast and a hard man to double up himself. If he could have put the ball in play here, even grounding into a fielder’s choice is better than a strikeout.

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