The Nationals racked up 10 hits in their win over the New York Mets on Saturday, setting a season-high with seven runs scored as they cruised to a series-tying victory in Queens.
While the run total might suggest Washington was barreling up Mets pitchers all afternoon, each of those 10 hits were singles. It was only the second time this season that an MLB team has recorded 10 or more singles without collecting an extra-base hit. The Nationals’ offense has lacked power this year, hitting just 14 home runs through 18 games — a total that ranked 28th in the majors entering play Saturday.
However, the Nationals found many ways to get on base Saturday. In addition to the 10 singles, the team also drew five walks and even drove in a run with a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch. Mets starter Marcus Stroman lasted only four innings with five runs (four earned) allowed after giving up just two runs across his first three starts.
“We gotta move the baseball, we gotta accept our walks and play for the guy behind us,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said on a Zoom call after the game. “That’s how you extend innings. That’s how you score runs. They did that today. Unselfishly, they worked their walks, they got base hits when needed so they all had a good day today.
“The power will come. We got some guys that can hit the ball a long way. It’s gonna happen but for right now I like the at-bats, I like the way that they took their walks and they were pulling for each other, which they do every day but today you saw them trying to get on base for the next guy.”
“Move the baseball” is coach speak for “put the ball in play.” The Nationals did a lot of that on Saturday and it was enough to walk away with the win. But sooner or later, that power is going to be needed. The Nationals are the only team in baseball that has yet to hit a home run with runners in scoring position this season. That’s 18 games without a big home run that pulls a game within reach or buries an opponent far behind. Those hits aren’t pivotal on a daily basis, but they do make a difference in an NL East division where every win matters.
Washington is without Juan Soto, its most dependable offensive presence. Yet the team is still waiting for Josh Bell (.132/.227/.263 on the season) and Kyle Schwarber (.208/.240/.333) to bring runners around as the resident No. 4 and 5 hitters, respectively. Schwarber tallied two bloop singles Saturday, perhaps a sign of good things to come after he entered the game on an 0-for-13 skid. Bell is still searching for his first multi-hit game of the year.
Second baseman Josh Harrison echoed his skipper’s sentiments that a pesky offense can still make an impact on the win column — at least for now while Soto is out and Bell and Schwarber get their timing down.
“That’s where it starts, having good at-bats and the power comes later,” Harrison said. “It’s all about timely hitting and today we were able to jump on them early and keep adding on. Guys were having good at-bats and keeping that pressure on them.”
Martinez isn’t worrying about the lack of power just yet.
“I think, in due time, you’re gonna see those guys start hitting the ball out of the ballpark,” Martinez said. “I really do. But there’s other ways to win in this game and you saw that today. Just by moving the baseball, drawing walks. It worked today.
“These guys, they’ll find that flow. These guys that are supposed to hit the balls out, they’ll start hitting them out. The other guys that are doubles guys, that’s what they do. They can move the baseball, get guys over and that. I think our lineup is built in many different ways. I know the Josh Bells, the Schwarbers, Trea [Turner], when Soto comes back, Yadi [Hernández] when he’s in there — these guys: They get a pitch they can drive, they’ll drive it.”