Standing taller was all it took for Jayson Werth to go from a slump to a streak.
Since the right fielder made a slight alteration to his stance at the start of July, he’s 6 for 10 with five extra-base hits in three games. He had six extra-base hits in all of June.
Though the Nationals lost to the Cubs, 7-2, on Friday, Werth continued his success at the plate, going 2 for 3 with a home run and a double.
“A lot of people who don’t watch the game a lot or haven’t played the game a lot, they don’t realize that one little tinker can be the difference of you going on a hot streak or you going in the slumps,” center fielder Denard Span said.
“Sometimes it’s something simple, but once you find it, it’s the best feeling ever. Hopefully, he can just hold on to it as long as possible.”
Approached by members of the media, Werth said he was off for the Fourth of July and declined to answer questions. He also did not answer questions on the holiday last year.
He said earlier in the week he stayed late Monday night with hitting coach Rick Schu to go over film of his swing. The taller stance has enabled him to shorten his swing. His slugging percentage dropped to .370 in June, the lowest in the Nationals’ lineup.
In the first inning against the Cubs, Werth hit his second home run of the week, sending right-hander Jason Hammel’s fastball to the left-field stands. In the eighth inning, Werth doubled to right off reliever Pedro Strop .
“He’s just staying on top of the ball a little more,” Manager Matt Williams said. “Saw it on the homer to his pull side. Strop threw him a good fastball up and away, and he was able to line it to right. That just means he’s on top of the ball. The adjustment of standing up a little bit, taking a little different angle to the baseball has helped.”
Werth was 24 for 84 last June before he went 33 for 90 with 22 RBI in July, winning the National League’s player of the month award.
“It’s big for us,” Span said. “He’s definitely the leader of this team both in the clubhouse and on the field. Whenever he gets going, it just ignites the team. It’ll definitely be big if he can get going. It seems like when he gets going, it kind of gets contagious. It’s just good to see him finding his stroke.”