The first week Nate Schierholtz spent with the Nationals brought him frustration. It had nothing to do with his role or the way he felt at the plate. When he pinch hit, he felt confident and comfortable. He hit several pitches hard — in Philadelphia, he ended a ninth-inning rally with a a missile of a one-hopper right at the shortstop, and in Seattle, he clobbered a ball to the center field warning track. He just had nothing to show for it.
Sunday, in his second start in three days, Schierholtz ensured he would hit a ball that didn’t find a glove. He smashed a solo home run to center field in the Nationals’ 5-3 loss, his first hit as a National coming in his eighth at-bat.
“It was nice to just see the ball go out, I guess,” Schierholtz said. “The way it’s been going the first week, I felt like there were a lot of guys out in the field.”
Former Nationals Manager Davey Johnson was fond of saying it takes 25 men to win a pennant. If that’s true, the Nationals will need a contribution from Schierholtz, who assumed a role as the Nationals’ 25th man when they signed him to a minor league contract in mid-August and promoted him days later to replace out-for-the-season Nate McLouth as their primary left-handed pinch hitter.
Schierholtz hit a paltry .192/.240/.300 with six home runs this season in Chicago before the Cubs designated him for assignment. But the Nationals are going to rely on him late in games down the stretch in key spots against right-handed pitchers when a pinch hitter is needed. He may take some big at-bats in the next month, and so the homer offered a good sign.
“I’ve felt pretty good since I got here, timing-wise,” Schierholtz said. “I’ve felt good in my pinch-hit at-bats. I felt comfortable at the plate.”
FROM THE POST
Bryce Harper stayed hot, but the Nationals couldn’t overcome one bad pitch from Tanner Roark in a 5-3 loss to the Mariners.
FROM THE WEEKEND’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 4, Buffalo 3: Destin Hood went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk-off home run. Tyler Moore went 2 for 4 with two doubles. Jhonatan Solano went 2 for 3 with a double. Ryan Mattheus allowed one run in 1 1/3 relief innings on one hit and no walks, striking out two. He lowered his ERA to 5.80.
Portland 6, Harrisburg 2: Drew Vettleson went 2 for 4. Zach Kroenke allowed four runs in five innings on four hits and two walks, striking out two.
Potomac 5, Frederick 4: John Wooten went 2 for 2 with a triple and a walk. Ike Ballou went 1 for 3 with a walk. Estarlin Martinez went 1 for 3 with a triple. Dakota Bacus allowed four runs in five innings on seven hits and no walks, striking out one.
Hagerstown 5, Lakewood 2: Wilmer Difo went 1 for 5 with his 14th home run. Carlos Lopez went 2 for 3 with a double. Nick Pivetta allowed two runs in five innings on six hits and no walks, striking out three. Jake Johansen pitched two scoreless innings in relief, allowing one hit and striking out one. Johansen, the Nationals’ first pick in the 2013 draft, has pitched in relief for the past month.
Batavia 7, Auburn 6: Raudy Reed went 2 for 5 with two doubles. Jeff Gardner went 2 for 5 with two doubles. Luis Reyes allowed one run in five innings on three hits and no walks striking out three.