Two years removed from the Black Knight moment that legitimized baseball in the Nation’s Capital, the Washington Nationals are waiting for a few Howie Kendrick moments by Josh Bell and Josh Harrison to propel them out of the cellar in the National League East Division
Manager Davey Martinez said the entire team “has been taking too many good pitches” which is leading to an overall slump in the District. Washington is a team that looks caught up in analytics at the plate, swinging late on pitches they should be driving.
Their offensive struggles continued in a 5-1 loss to division-rival Atlanta Braves on Friday.
Washington ranks 5th in MLB in batting average, but just 25th in homers (53) and 27th in RBI (198). These numbers reflect the squad’s inability to get key hits and drive in runs.
The MLBbros on the left side of the infield shoulder some of the blame as the Nationals continue through this tough June schedule, where they are facing division rivals Atlanta and Philadelphia.
After a hot streak, The Josh Boys have contributed to the team’s inability to score runs and simply get on base.
The Nationals have been waiting for Harrison to take charge at second base, but his inconsistency at the plate has kept the platoon in order. Despite batting .270 with four home runs and 18 RBI for the season, Washington’s incumbent starter is slumping badly with four hits in his last 32 at-bats.
He was blazing in early May and fizzled out with his team as June came around.
Bell has been showing flashes of his All-Star brilliance from his days in Pittsburgh but is yet to string together consistent stretches of productivity. After his return from the COVID list in April where he batted .113, he rebounded to hit .289 in May.
But as the calendar changed to June, Bell’s struggles returned. He’s batting .125 (2-for-16) and managed just one hit in five at-bats in Atlanta as they broke even with the Braves in that recently concluded four-game series where they split despite having chances to win games behind stellar pitching from Patrick Corbin, Joe Ross, and Jon Lester.
The Nationals offense is wasting quality starts from the pitching staff and now must dig themselves out of a cellar-dwelling hole that may be too deep to climb out of and get back into playoffs.
Two MLB bros from the Nation’s capital have been making headlines with their plate and field performances.
Washington Nationals‘ first baseman Josh Bell takes the top spot in this week’s #HighFive list that also features his longtime teammate Josh Harrison.
1. Josh Bell
The former Pittsburgh Pirate has seen his numbers rise after a slow start to the 2021 season. In his last seven games, Bell is batting .385 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI while slugging .654. Just this past Monday, Bell was featured on our “Home Boi Highlights” segment for his performance last week, when he batted .429.
The former All-Star was traded to the Nationals in December with hopes of him helping to get them back to the World Series. He has worked his way into the three-hole spot in the lineup and in a competitive National League East could be the difference in whether or not they make the playoffs.
2. Marcus Semien
I do not think anyone had a better month of May than Marcus Semien. He leads all of baseball with 35 hits this month after hitting back-to-back home runs with his double play partner Bo Bichette in game 1 of the Blue Jays doubleheader Thursday.
In the last seven games, Semien has hit three home runs, slugged 742, and almost hit for the cycle in last Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
This season Semien is making the statement that he is the best 2nd baseman in baseball. His 13 home runs and 31 RBI lead all second baseman by a wide margin.
3. Josh Harrison
One of the most exciting bros in baseball makes his well-deserved first appearance on our #Hig Five list this season. Josh Harrison hit a huge grand slam last Saturday that had the DMV going crazy. He has 7 hits in his last 21 at-bats while driving in five runs.
Harrison owned the Orioles in their three-game winning series batting .500 to power a clean sweep of their Beltway Series rival.
4. Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge is probably going yard as I write this list because he’s been on fire. As a matter of fact, there it goes, a two-run homer against the Toronto Blue Jays to tie Thursday night’s game at 3-3 and help propel the Yankees to a crucial 5-3 win. Judge executed his role as a stopper to perfection, helping the Yankees salvage the last game of a three-game series.
Aaron Judge is still carrying the Yankees and keeping them alive in a tough #ALEast Division
2-run bomb to tie the game as the Yankees attempt to avoid the doubleheader sweep to @BlueJays
During his recent hot streak Judge has been more than a home run hitter, even walking off for a win, via the base on ball.
In his last seven games entering Thursday, the Fresno State alum was batting .348 and walked four times, which is always good to see from a power hitter. His contact-first philosophy has fueled his elevation towards the Top 10 in American League batting leaders. He doesn’t have any room for regression, especially with Twin Tower and MLB bro teammate Giancarlo Stanton still on the shelf.
5. Kyle Lewis
After missing the beginning of the 2021 season with a leg injury, it has taken last year’s American League Rookie of the Year a few weeks to find his groove. But he’s getting ready to start dancing like Mike soon.
He had both a .400+ OBP and slugging percentage in his last seven games and recorded at least one hit in six of them.
He’s shown flashes of power this season including the bomb he hit on Monday in Oakland. His bat flip only warrants a 7/10 rating and will be looking for him to impress us a little more when he connects on his next one.
The baseball world has been waiting for Josh Bell to bust out of his funk and return to his 30-plus homer-hitting self. It looks like the Washington Nationals slugger has found his groove the past week and his vicious stick has earned him a Home Boi Highlights shoutout from Rob Parker.
In Thursday’s afternoon matinee at Nationals Park, two Black Knights got the party started but only one carried a big stick. While Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen scored the first run of the game in the top of the first, Washington’s Josh Bell arguably made the biggest statement with a blast heading towards the Pentagon as it left the stadium.
Bell, who has been slow to recover at the plate from COVID-19 which delayed his start to the season, followed Kyle Schwarber with his own two-run first-inning blast in a four-run first inning which gave Patrick Corbin all he needed to help Washington snap its four-game losing streak with a 5-1 win.
Rarely does a single early May at-bat set the tone for a season but this had the feel of a James Brown moment for the Nats’ first baseman.
Bell had been drawing the ire of talk show hosts on their flagship station inside the District after failing to deliver in a clutch late-inning at-bat one night earlier. He entered the game hitting .202 (17-for-84, 3 home runs) all-time against the Phillies.
“To be able to simplify, work through some things mechanically and have it click that first pitch, I was really stoked,” Bell said. “That was by far the best swing of the year — the most connected, the most behind it, best ball flight for sure. Hopefully, more to come.”
An early wake-up call and the afternoon start was the perfect tonic to help Washington’s prized offseason acquisition make his statement before the team headed to Arizona for the start of a west coast road trip.
Bell, who never seems stressed during his media availability sessions, looked like the pressure of finding his offense was finally getting to him Wednesday night.
He was caught by one of those baseball moments where the fickle hand of fate put him on blast. Bell had a chance to deliver in a pinch-hit situation but struck out with the bases loaded in the seventh inning as the Nationals lost 6-2 in 10 innings.
“I can’t be striking out at the clip that I’m striking out,” Bell said afterwards. “I’m having way too long of at-bats and not capitalizing on mistakes right now, so it’s just been tough.”
The Washington Nationals – powered by MLBbros Josh Bell and Josh Harrison – Beat the New York Yankees 11-4 on Friday night, earning their fourth win in six games.
Bell, the big swinging first baseman Josh Bell got things started for the Nats with a solo blast in the top of the second inning. The 423-foot shot was almost the newest addition to the famed monument park in center field.
With two on, he yoked a fastball over the left field wall that took a one-run lead and grew it to four, as part of a six-run outburst that put the game out of reach.
Harrison walked and scored again in the ninth, finishing the game with a team-high .325 batting average.
The follow through was beautiful. You can’t blame Josh for admiring that work of art.
Even better was the look on the face of Jonathan Loaisiga. He just had to wait for it to land.
Loaisiga must have been confused. He had given up three runs all season, and Harrison gets three of them in one stroke.
More of this baseball. The vibe. The audacity. The unapologetic flex of it all.
Yes, the Yankees had been the story as of late, but Giancarlo Stanton’s hitting streak ended at 12 games, and New York has lost two in a row.
Out of the spotlight, the Nationals have begun to warm up and both Bell and Harrison have been right in the middle of it all.
Bell has been one of the National Leagues’ top power hitters since bursting onto the scene in 2017 with 26 home runs for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he’s starting to feel more welcome in the nation’s capital.
As the first month of this season came to a close, Bell refound the pop in his bat. Over his last seven games, he’s racked up three extra-base hits, with two of those becoming souvenirs.
Another former Pirate, Harrison is on pace for a career year hitting in the two-hole for Washington. He’s gone without picking up a hit only five times in 2021. Harrison has already matched his 2020 home run output and topped his season totals in hits, runs, and walks.
The Nationals are only two games back of the Philadelphia Phillies. They still have a lot of the elements to contend for the playoffs. With Harrison helping to set the table, Bell is going to have plenty of opportunities to eat.