Simply Senz-ational: Senzel doubles twice, homers to power Nats

June 9th, 2024

WASHINGTON -- Third baseman had already recorded his first multi-double game in three years, and then he added to the day by going yard.

Senzel went 3-for-3 with three RBIs, a walk and three runs scored in the Nationals’ 7-3 win over the Braves on Saturday at Nationals Park.

“Every at-bat was really good,” said manager Dave Martinez. “He’s getting back, staying in his legs, and he’s gotten some length in his swing. Today, his last at-bat -- hey, you’ve just got to get the ball up on this guy -- and he smoked a home run.”

Senzel connected on three extra-base hits for the first time since July 19, 2019, and two doubles for the first time since April 7, 2021. His sixth home run of the season was his first since April 28.

“Any time you can get some doubles and some home runs and extra-base hits and get into scoring position for the guys behind me, it helps our team,” Senzel said after the Nationals improved to 5-2 on the season against the Braves.

Following two doubles off right-hander Charlie Morton, Senzel belted a two-run homer off a second-pitch four-seamer by lefty reliever Dylan Lee in the sixth inning. The Statcast-estimated 405-foot dinger traveled at 101.7 mph to left-center field.

“I knew Lee snuck a fastball by me first pitch, and I was going to be on a fastball again,” Senzel said. “He threw it up in the zone, but I was kind of able to beat it to the spot. I knew once I hit it, I hit it good. I felt like it was going to giddy up and go. I just tried to shorten up on that one, and luckily it went over.”

Senzel began the season sidelined on Opening Day by sustaining a fractured right thumb during pregame warmups. He missed 15 games and returned on April 15, looking to establish a rhythm in his first year with the Nationals. Senzel put together a stretch of five hits, three home runs and eight RBIs over four games in late April, before posting a .668 OPS with no homers and four RBIs in 24 games in May.

The sixth-year veteran, who was non-tendered by the Reds in November, has gotten back into a groove as of late. In his last 13 games, Senzel is batting .359 (14-for-39) with a .444 on-base percentage, .590 slugging percentage, six doubles, one homer and one stolen base.

“I think you prepare before the game and you work on stuff, and then in the game you try to shrink the zone into what your strengths are,” said Senzel, who has a career-best 13.5 percent walk rate on the season. “I think what I’ve learned over the course of my career is, the more aggressive I can be, the less I swing at bad pitches.”

On Friday, Senzel became the final Nationals position player who had appeared in a game to steal a base. It was his first since Aug. 30.

“He came up to me during the game and grabbed me and goes, ‘I got a stolen base!’” Martinez recounted on Friday. “... He was very happy. That’s good to see. He could be a situational basestealer. He’s just got to get there and understand what we’re trying to do.”

Martinez believes as the weather continues to get warmer, so will Senzel’s activity on the basepaths. The Nationals are seeing the results of the work he has been putting in at the plate with hitting coach Darnell Coles and assistant hitting coach Chris Johnson, as well as the defensive focus with third-base coach Ricky Gutierrez. Martinez noted a quiet, competitive nature that has a passion for the game.

“I feel like I’m also my worst critic; I always think I can do better,” Senzel said. “But that’s the game of baseball. You’re going to go through highs and lows. I think that’s a day to day thing. When you have days like today, you enjoy them but knowing that you’ve got a game tomorrow that you’ve got to get ready for. But today was a great day for me.”