Forget the play in the ninth inning Tuesday and consider Kevin Frandsen’s recent impact. Over the past 10 days, he has played in nine games, starting in three of them, and has gone 10 for 16 at the plate. He has driven in two runs, both on hits in the middle of two key rallies, and scored a run in another comeback.
On Tuesday against Phillies left-handed starter Cole Hamels, Frandsen smacked an opposite field single in the seventh inning that trimmed the Nationals’ deficit to 3-2, and the score was tied an inning later on Asdrubal Cabrera’s solo shot.
Frandsen started Tuesday night because Adam LaRoche has been dealing with a tight back. A week ago, Frandsen started at third base while Anthony Rendon received a well earned day off. Frandsen has been the jack of all trades for the Nationals this season and filled his role capably. Tuesday was another example.
Among those 10 hits in the past 16 at-bats, Frandsen has two pinch-hit knocks. His recent string of starts have helped him heat up at the plate.
Hitting coach Rick Schu “has helped me so much in staying locked in and finding a setup that’s real simple,” Frandsen said. “In July, we didn’t have many at-bats, the guys on the bench, for good reason. We finally had the guys back. It’s continued to be a process. It’s definitely for myself not trying to do much. If I do too much, then you’re gonna get bad results. More playing time helps out with anyone. That’s just the nature of the beast in this game.”
While the Nationals’ starting lineup suffered from numerous injuries early in the season, Frandsen played a lot. He received 43 plate appearances and seven starts in the first month of the season, and hit .289. In May, he started 11 times, made 56 plate appearances and hit .196.
But as starters began returning, Frandsen’s playing time understandably decreased. That, however, can adversely affect a bench player’s timing. Frandsen started eight times in June and received 43 plate appearances. In July, he started only three times and made 20 plate appearances. After work with Schu, he improved, even in limited playing time.
Manager Matt Williams has made a point of trying to get days off for regular players in recent weeks, which opens up a tad more playing time for Frandsen and he has welcomed that. So far in August, Frandsen has started five times, received 33 plate appearances and is hitting .387. As the Nationals made a playoff push in the final weeks, pinch hitting and spot starts from Frandsen will be key.
“We go forward hopefully there’s more and more opportunities to help this team win,” Frandsen said. “If not, I know my role and I love it coming off the bench and hopefully coming up with the big hit.”
FROM THE POST
The Nationals suffer consecutive losses for first time since Aug. 5, writes Adam Kilgore.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Lehigh Valley 5, Syracuse 4: Blake Treinen gave up five runs on five hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings. Sam Runion, Aaron Barrett and Manny Delcarmen combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Jeff Kobernus went 3 for 4. Eury Perez and Destin Hood each added two hits.
New Hampshire 6, Harrisburg 4: Paolo Espino coughed up six runs on nine hits and struck out eight over 7 2/3 innings. Drew Vettleson went 2 for 3 with a solo homer.
Potomac 3, Wilmington 1: Dakota Bacus allowed only one run on five hits and struck out eight over seven innings. Bryan Harper notched a hold and Gilberto Mendez his 13th save. Pedro Severino drove in two runs. Khayyan Norfork, John Wooten and Isaac Ballou each smacked two hits.
Asheville 5, Hagerstown 4: Nick Pivetta gave up three runs on six hits over five innings. Justin Thomas coughed up the game with one run over four innings. Narciso Mesa and James Yezzo each collected two hits.
Jamestown 4, Auburn 1: James Bourque allowed only one run over five innings but Joseph Webb gave up two runs on four hits over 2 2/3 innings. Cody Gunter went 2 for 4 with an RBI.