Like Sunday, long rallies plus home runs key to success
by Jacob Emert | MLB.com
WASHINGTON — The ideal offense has a balance of both.
Home runs provide runs and therefore the possibility for wins in a hurry. But, too high a reliance on the long ball — as the Nationals have been blamed for in years past — is counterproductive for both long-term success and winning in the playoffs.
A dearth of home runs, though, where an offense requires several hits strung together to put a dent in the scoreboard, isn’t favorable either.
In the smallest of sample sizes, Sunday’s 9-5 win over the Brewers was the perfect mold — long innings and big hits combined with quick-strike home runs.
“The offensive approach is important,” manager Matt Williams said after the win. “The at-bats, the typical at-bats that we had today. Jayson [Werth] at the top of the lineup saw a lot of pitches. Anthony [Rendon] worked counts. [Ryan Zimmerman] walked a couple of times, so that just creates opportunity. Those type of offensive at-bats are important. Yeah, guys are going to hit the ball out of the ballpark on occasion, but that’s not the measure of our success. It comes form those extended at abts and extended innings.”
In the third inning, Rendon walked with two outs and the bases loaded. Bryce Harper followed with a shift-busting double, and the Nationals had started a rally. All with two outs, Washington drew three walks and knocked three hits (all of which stayed in play) to score four runs.
“In general, our team puts together some pretty long at-bats,” Williams said. “We’ve got good on-base guys, and then one swing of the bat means potentially more than one run. That’s how you get to games like today.”
In the fifth inning, the Nationals posted a four spot once more, but this time the runs came on two home runs. Wilson Ramos blasted a one-out shot into the Nationals Park stands and four batters later, after one out and two walks, Rendon provided the knockout blow, a three-run home run.
“I think homers will come,” Harper said. “When you have good ABs and you’re trying to drive the ball in the gaps, line drives and things like that. Homers are mistakes. Rendon put a good swing on the ball today and got one, and Willie also. It’s great to see, and I’m excited for both of them.”
Sustained rallies on a consistent basis are directly proportional to a productive offense, but the ability to hit home runs, especially when the offense isn’t stringing hits together, is vital.
Ideally, the two work in unison.
“Guys all over the base paths is what we want,” Williams said. “We’ll have our opportunity to drive those guys in.”