For much of the season, it was Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa carrying the Nationals offense. And as the rest of the offense sputtered through inconsistency, lack of hits with runners in scoring position and injury, players kept saying and holding out hope that eventually more than two guys’ hot streaks would overlap.
Though the run totals have yet to show it, over the past three weeks, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman have joined Morse as the team’s hot hitters.
“We’re inching closer to the whole lineup being productive,” Johnson said before Wednesday’s 6-4 loss to Atlanta. “You see flashes of a guy here and a guy there but the consistency basically for a year, Morse has been pretty consistent. And I know he has been switching around from four to five but I think I’ve had him in the four hole for the past couple weeks.”
As Espinosa has labored through a recent tough stretch (6-for-59) in since July 18, Werth and Zimmerman have found their grooves. In the same stretch, Werth is hitting .313 (16-for-51) with three home runs and 11 RBI. His anemic batting average of .211 in mid-July is now up to .226 – a byproduct of being more relaxed at the plate, said Johnson, who considers hot-hitting contagious.
Zimmerman has been just as productive, hitting .369 (24-for-65) in the same span, but knocking in only four runs. Since early July, when his batting average hit a season-low of .219, Zimmerman has climbed back up to .286. With two singles on Wednesday, he extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
Morse, of course, remains the team’s most singular offensive force. He has hit .383 (23-for-60) with three home runs and 12 RBI since July 18.
“We knew that this time was going to come,” said shortstop Ian Desmond, following Tuesday’s 9-3 win over Atlanta which featured three Nationals home runs, “we just have to hold on to it and make it last.”