WASHINGTON -- For much of this season, Nationals manager Dusty Baker has bemoaned his team's approach in crucial situations, particularly their seeming inability to collect a two-out hit. His latest and perhaps strongest statement on his team's approach came after Friday night's 5-3 loss to the Padres, Washington's fourth loss in five games.
"At this stage of the game, almost two-thirds of the season gone, we've got to make some changes," Baker said. "We've been waiting and waiting and waiting, and it's getting frustrating on the guys and frustrating on fans and frustrating to us, too. You had to be patient and you hope that we make some changes and some theories and philosophies and getting a good pitch to hit."
He added: "That's been avoiding us all year long. That's been our nemesis. People ask me, you know, what do we need? We need some timely, two-out base hits."
Exactly how the Nationals go about making those changes remains to be seen.
Washington has been "unlucky" this season according to their clutch score -- a stat that, according to Fangraphs, records how much better or worse a player does in a high-leverage situation compared to normal situations. The Nationals entered Friday with a score of -2.92, ranked 23rd in the Majors. However, while that score measures past performance, it does not necessarily predict a turnaround in the future.
The Nationals have been virtually the same offense as a whole (.752 OPS as a team) as they have with runners in scoring positions (.748), so perhaps their run of bad luck only seems magnified lately.
"I think we're swinging the bats well," outfielder Bryce Harper said. "Sometimes you line out and get out. Sometimes you hit right into shifts. Sometimes you strike out, sometimes you walk. It's part of the game."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.