You're not supposed to glean much from a two-game stretch, especially in the context of a full baseball season. But for Ian Desmond and the Nationals, the past 48 hours have provided hope that the three-time Silver Slugger Award winner could be on the verge of ending his prolonged slump.
After notching the game-winning RBI the previous night in extra innings, Desmond came back Thursday with two hits in the Nats' 7-0 win over the Braves; one was a third-inning two-run home run, the other a sharp single up the middle in the eighth.
While manager Matt Williams told reporters afterwards that driving pitches to centerfield is a sign of a hitter who's seeing the ball well lately, at this point Desmond isn't exactly going to complain about how they fall.
"I don't really discriminate on hits," he deadpanned. "I don't really care where they go."
One of quickest ways Desmond can get out of his doldrums is to solve one of his biggest bug-a-boos: Strikeouts. He's been rung up 59 times combined in May and June, while drawing just seven walks over that span. He managed to avoid a punch-out Thursday, which is just the third time he's done that in his last 14 games.
"To be able to [with] two strikes, I laid off some balls in the dirt, which has been a struggle lately," Desmond said.
Indeed, the 29-year-old's struggles have been well documented over the season's first half. Some have wondered if he's truly healthy, if there's additional pressure from being in a contract year or perhaps some other reason altogether. Whatever the source of his troubles are, his teammates say they still believe that his career track record is more telling of his true ability rather than what he's shown thus far in 2015.
"I’m happy for him [that he hit the home run]," said Wilson Ramos. "I’m really happy for him because he is one of the best hitters on the team and he getting confident right now. So that’s what we need. We need that guy getting hot because everybody know he can bring runs in and hit homers. He’s one of the power hitters on the team so I’m happy for what he been doing the last two days. That make me feel happy for him."
"We’ve never doubted Ian," added Clint Robinson. "We know he’s going to come out and give us everything he’s got. Just because a guys has not put up the numbers he has in the past for two months after he’s done it for four years now, we don’t doubt him at all. We know it’s there. He’s gonna come back strong, and he’s gonna keep building on these past couple of games.
"We have all the confidence in the world in him."