Nationals drop struggling Ian Desmond from the leadoff spot

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After going hitless in 12 at-bats during this week’s series against the Phillies, Ian Desmond has been dropped from first to seventh in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Brewers.

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman changed his mind about dropping Desmond in the lineup early last week, but tells Paul Tenorio of the Washington Post that he’s hopeful the change will allow him to relax at the plate.

“I just really want to let the attention get off [Desmond] in that spot, let him settle in a little bit deeper in the lineup, take some of that off of him,” Riggleman said. “We thought about doing it earlier and I didn’t, it was only three or four games into the season. Dezzy’s doing fine. He’s going to go through some times like this just like all of them are. Just trying to take a little attention off the leadoff spot for him. He’s a heck of a player and he’s doing some really good things for us out there that are kind of under the radar that people don’t see, but as far as swinging the bat maybe let him relax a little bit deeper in the lineup today.”

Desmond is batting just .180/.212/.300 with a 12/2 K/BB ratio over his first 52 plate appearances this season. He has just 35 walks over his first 715 plate appearances in the big leagues, so he’s hardly an ideal leadoff man.

Danny Espinosa will replace him at the top of the lineup and while he’s a poor bet to maintain his current .281 batting average, he is at least seeing 3.88 pitches per plate appearance so far this season. The Nationals need something to kickstart an offense which is missing third baseman Ryan Zimmerman with an abdominal strain.

José Altuve records hit in 10 consecutive plate appearances

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Astros second baseman José Altuve recorded a hit in 10 consecutive plate appearances between Friday and Sunday against the Indians. If the Astros were still in the National League, that would tie a league record, but the AL and overall record is 12 consecutive hits, which was accomplished by the Tigers’ Walt Dropo on July 14 and 15 in 1952. Altuve’s 10 consecutive hits did set a new Astros record, however. The previous club record was eight, set by Altuve last season.

In his third plate appearance on Friday, Altuve grounded out to shortstop. Here were his next 10 trips to the dish:

  1. Two-run double
  2. Double
  3. Infield single
  4. Two-run home run
  5. Single
  6. Triple
  7. Single
  8. Infield single
  9. RBI double
  10. RBI single

This was hit No. 10:

In his final at-bat in the top of the ninth on Sunday, Altuve lined out to center field to end his streak. Teammate Josh Reddick, currently on the disabled list, was impressed with the streak:

After Sunday’s performance, Altuve is hitting .332/.378/.459 with three home runs, 28 RBI, and 31 runs scored in 239 plate appearances this season. His OPS was .760 after Thursday’s game and is now .837.