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The Nationals offense gone cold

Stephen Strasburg on the mound leads to a lot of strikeouts, and so lately does the Nationals offense at the plate. In their four-game losing streak, the Nationals have struck out 40 times and walked just five times, two of those intentional.

"The zone has been tough at times," hitting coach Rick Eckstein said. "Without getting into specifics, you try to understand the strike zone as you're conducting your at-bat, sometimes that fluctuates. No excuses. We have to do a better job."

The Nationals have managed 11 runs in the four games while batting .199. Since the Nationals hit 20-15 on May 14, their high-water mark, they have gone 11-22. In that span, the Nationals have scored four runs per game while batting .254 with a .700 OPS.

Eckstein believes the Nationals have been victims of hard-hit balls at defenders and that he does not think the offense has started to place undue pressure on itself. He also said they have to find a way to start producing.

"That's the nature of the beast," Eckstein said. "We just got to keep hitting ball and eventually we'll find the holes and get going again. It's been a tough stretch.

"Anytime you go into a tough stretch, you can use all the adjectives you want to use. It's just a tough stretch. It's one of those things where we haven't been getting the key hit. Just really haven't offensively put together what we're capable of doing. Guys are working hard and putting themselves in position to be successful. We just need to start being successful."

By Adam Kilgore  |  June 18, 2010; 11:51 PM ET
 
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Comments

Yeah, the offense is abysmal right now. The only hitter I have any real confidence in is Zimmerman, with a little hope when Dunn steps in the box. When Dunn struck out, I knew it was up to the bullpen to hold down the Sox for a couple of innings, until the top of the order came around again.

That was a big moment, and most would point to Zimm's airmailing the throw to first base as the other big moment. For me, the bigger moment was the at-bat before. The grounder to Dunn allowed the runner to advance to 3rd base. If Storen could have kept the runner in check somehow (not letting the hitter hit behind the runner), then Zimm's amazing diving play serves to keep the ball in the infield and prevents the runner from scoring. Then, that play would have been the key moment in the game. As it was, the at-bat before turned out to be huge for the Sox, doing the little things that can win games.

Posted by: fischy | June 19, 2010 1:27 AM | Report abuse

"The zone has been tough at times," hitting coach Rick Eckstein said. "Without getting into specifics, you try to understand the strike zone as you're conducting your at-bat, sometimes that fluctuates..."

Somehow the other teams seem to be able to figure it out. Seems like it's only the Nats that can't.

Oh, and Dibble, too.

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 19, 2010 6:24 AM | Report abuse

5 BB's and 40 K's in 4 games is a bad BB:K ratio. The goal for hitters is 1 BB for every 2 K's.

Especially for the table-setters -- the Nats can't score runs if Morgan and Guzman are not getting on base for Zimmerman-Dunn-Willingham (all three with OPS's higher than .900) to drive in.

Posted by: ericp331 | June 19, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

The Nats shoulda spent a little cash on a second baseman or a right fielder in the offseason.

And no I don't count Adam Kennedy as spending money.

Posted by: CJArlington | June 19, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

"The Nats shoulda spent a little cash on a second baseman or a right fielder in the offseason."

"And no I don't count Adam Kennedy as spending money."

Riggleman's starting second baseman is not Kennedy. Kennedy is a backup. The starter at second base makes 8.5 million this year. I think that may be more than just everyone else on the team right? You may not like him. He never walks and of late has been the worst culprit when it comes to striking out. But come hell or high water Riggleman is going to find a way to play Guzman and get him 500-600 at bats. Whether the team benefits from that or not.

Posted by: periculum | June 19, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

"But come hell or high water Riggleman is going to find a way to play Guzman and get him 500-600 at bats. Whether the team benefits from that or not."
======================================
That 8.5 million is why they're keep playing him hell or high water and nowhere else in the lineup because his ego wouldn't take it. I would like to see Desmond hitting second at times, and they did play him there earlier in April, but Guzman couldn't handle it, so that was that...

Posted by: bromisky | June 19, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that Eckstein gets no grief while Lenny Harris was dogged out of town.

Posted by: Vze2sr66 | June 19, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

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