CHICAGO — The Nationals scored five runs in the eighth inning of Game 2. In the other 26 innings, they have scored two.
That, plus elimination staring them in the face, prompted Washington manager Dusty Baker to make changes to his lineup ahead of Tuesday’s Game 4 in a breezy and cool Wrigley Field.
Trea Turner, who is yet to reach base in the series, remains in the leadoff spot. Jayson Werth has been moved up from sixth to second. Bryce Harper was slid into the No. 3 spot. Ryan Zimmerman will hit cleanup. Daniel Murphy was moved down to fifth and Anthony Rendon to sixth. The bottom of the order stayed the same.
“Well, this is our most successful lineup that we had, but I was kind of waiting on [Harper] to get some more reps, get some more ABs, and to get a little sharper; and that’s why,” Baker said.
“We had faced left-handers the first couple games, and so I shuffled and went back to our original. First time we’ve had that lineup in months since Harp got hurt. Feels pretty good.”
Murphy was critical of himself after Game 3. He’s just 1-for-11 in the series (.091) out of the cleanup spot. He has one walk.
“I’m not having very good at-bats,” Murphy said after Game 3. “I don’t want to speak for anybody but myself. Get better pitches to hit and hit them harder.”
His most solid contact of the series produced an out when he hit a liner to first in Game 1 that Anthony Rizzo caught. Oddly, Murphy has been on base just three times, but has scored twice in the series.
The Nationals are by far the worst hitting team in the postseason. As a team, they are hitting just .121. They have a .431 on-base plus slugging percentage.
“[The Cubs] continue to get the clutch hits,” Baker said after Game 3. “You know, we haven’t gotten them, yet. But we will.”
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