Nats' skipper Matt Williams is scheduled to meet with reporters this afternoon to talk about the upcoming series and the as-yet unannounced starter for the Nationals in Game 1 of the division series will meet with the baseball press too.
The Giants, who beat the Pittsburgh Pirates convincingly last night in PNC Park, 8-0, will be in the nation's capital today as both teams prepare for the NLDS with workouts in Nationals Park.
Williams, who played 10 of his 17 major league seasons in San Francisco after the Giants drafted him 3rd overall in 1986, talked before the Nationals traveled to AT&T Park in the second week of June about the significance of facing off against his former team.
"That's my original home," he said.
"I spent 10 years there. The people of San Francisco have been nothing but gracious to me throughout my whole career whether I was a Giant or an Indian or a Diamondback or managing the Washington Nationals.
"It feels like home to me, because that's where I started. I have great memories there. I learned how to be a big league baseball player there. So, of course it's significant."
"We want to win those games though," he continued. "They've got a really great team, they're playing very well. We want to win those games. It's always special for me to go back there. People have supported me for a long, long time there and I'm grateful for that."
The Nationals took three of four that week, dropping only the series finale. Winning the series, Williams said, was an impressive accomplishment against a team that had won five straight and 15 of 18 heading into the series.
"Against these guys, especially the way they've been playing, it's gratifying to play as well as we did the first three. Today it kind of unraveled on us, but three out of four from these guys is pretty good."
The Giants snapped the Nationals' 10-game winning streak in the second game of three in D.C. in August, but the Nats took two of three at home in Washington to finish the regular season 5-2 against San Francisco.
A 14-6 win in the series finale in Nationals Park was particularly important for the first-year manager, who said the ability to fight back from a 5-0 and then a 6-2 deficit was indicative of the Nats' approach to every game.
"Just that they don't quit," Williams said. "They don't stop fighting. I think that they feel it's important to continue to apply pressure even if we're down. Get some guys out there and have opportunities and they just did that again today.
"And we did that by bunching base hits together. That will help you along the way. Homers happen, but the fact that they bunched base hits together says something about approach and how they're going about it."
The Nationals hit homers and bunched together hits down the stretch to finish the year 96-66 with the NL's best record, so they have home field advantage in the NLDS with the Giants. It all starts at 3:07 PM EDT on Friday.
Until then... links and lots of them... starting... RIGHT NOW!!!:
• THE BIG STORY!!!:
• NATS BEAT:
• "There was not a whole lot separating the Giants and Pirates this season in terms of lineup production, as both teams ranked similarly in runs scored." - "Who should the Nats prefer to play: the Giants or the Pirates?" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider
• "Bumgarner couldn’t pitch until Game 3 of the NLDS; Cole would be primed for a Game 1 start and able to pitch twice if the series goes five games." - "Should the Nationals want to play the Giants or Pirates?" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post
• "When the Nationals prepared to face the Cardinals in the 2012 NLDS, they tried to downplay the significance of their lack of October experience vs. their highly decorated counterparts from St. Louis." - "Why the 2014 Nationals are different than the 2012 Nationals" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
• "Defensively, catcher Wilson Ramos has seen his caught-stealing percentage jump from 29 percent in 2013 to 38 percent in 2014." - "Nationals catchers stingy on stolen bases (LaRoche award finalist)" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com
• "The last choice, presuming the Nationals use an eight-man bullpen, would come down to Rafael Soriano or Jerry Blevins." - "Could tonight’s winner determine the Nationals’ final bullpen spot?" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post
• "Hank Allen played for the Washington Senators from 1966 to 1970 and for the past several seasons has been a frequent visitor to Nationals Park." - "Former Senators Player Is A Nationals Park Regular" - David Driver, DC Pressbox
Madison Bumgarner kind of spills the beans on ESPN, says "we got Peavy and Huddy going." Presumably he meant in Game 1 and Game 2.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) October 2, 2014
• "The thing that I would be concerned about, which I’m sure you guys have talked about a lot this year is, is Stephen Strasburg a legitimate No. 1?" Nitkowski asked 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier." - "CJ Nitkowski Has a Postseason Hot Take: ‘Is Stephen Strasburg a Legitimate No. 1?’" - Chris Lingebach, CBS DC
• "Someone had tried to pass along information about one of the Nationals’ best players: 'Zimmermann Tips Watch Glove.'" - "Who’s trying to mess with Jordan Zimmermann?" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post
• "During most games, Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams can be found on the second or third step of the dugout, his eyes fixed on the field and a member of his coaching staff at his side." - "Washington Nationals' Matt Williams excels as rookie manager through what he doesn't do" - Tom Schad, Washington Times
• "The Nats went 5-2 against the Giants this season, outscoring San Francisco 41-30. Washington took three of four out at AT&T Park in June, and this was back when the Giants were the hottest team in baseball." - "Nationals Pastime: Who do you want - Pirates or Giants?" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com
• "McCutchen has shown little power against fastballs from left-handed pitchers." - "Here is how the Giants can neutralize Andrew McCutchen" - Neil Greenberg, The Washington Post
• Your Daily Message from the DalaiLama on Twitter (@DalaiLama):
When you face problems in your lives, don’t resort to the use of force, try to employ dialogue to find a solution.— Dalai Lama (@DalaiLama) February 10, 2014
• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:
• "The Giants will play the Nationals in the National League Division Series. This is a quick thread for you to freak out. So freak out." - "Giants defeat Pirates in Wild Card Game, advance to NLDS" - Grant Brisbee, McCovey Chronicles
• "The Angels and Nationals also have diversified portfolios, leading their leagues in wins thanks mostly to a mix of draftees and trade acquisitions." - "Built to win: How each playoff team constructed its roster" - Jim Callis, MLB.com
• "The feeling that has been sweeping through Washington D.C. is 'Natitude,' and the rest of the country better get ready for it." - "18 Signs You've Got Some Serious 'Natitude'" - Michael Klopman, The Huffington Post
• "To know that I would get to witness so many of the Nationals' firsts as long as I was in the ballpark on a given day was something I was really looking forward to." - "Ready for another round of October baseball in D.C." - Nationals Buzz: Rachel Levitin, MASNSports.com
• "'I really want a gnome hat!' wrote Tova Perlow, a 30-year-old New York resident who travels at least once per month to see the Nats play in D.C." - "Nats encourage fans to wear gnome hats to games, but it was fans who started the practice" - Marissa Payne, The Washington Post
• "DC-IBWA announces 2014 Player Achievement Awards" - Dave Nichols, District Sports Page
• "DC-IBWAA 2014 Poll results and my vote" - Todd Boss, Nationals Arm Race
• "An article published earlier this year in The Georgetowner indicated Pelosi is neighbors with Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner at Washington Harbour in Georgetown." - "Pelosi: My next-door neighbor owns Washington Nationals" - Rebecca Shabad, TheHill
• "Instead of a home run barely clearing the fence at Nationals Park, imagine a prodigious blast sailing all the way to the U.S. Capitol." - "Washington Nationals tickets fetching 575 percent playoff premium" - Mark Holan, Washington Business Journal
• "For the second time in three years, the Nats are in the playoffs. And for the second time in three years, local fans have questions about how and where to find these playoff games on television." - "How to watch the Nats playoff games on TV and online" - Dan Steinberg, The Washington Post
• "Bryce, Will he bat nice?" - Harper, Nationals Baseball
• "For Episode #15 of THE NatsGM Show I was proud to be joined by former major league relief pitcher, and the final 1st Round pick for the Montreal Expos, Bill Bray." - "Episode 15 THE NatsGM Show – Guest Former MLB Pitcher Bill Bray" - Ryan Sullivan, NatsGM
• NL EAST UPDATES:
• Mets: "Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud on Wednesday underwent successful surgery to remove a bone chip that broke off in his right elbow." - "d'Arnaud undergoes successful elbow surgery" - Anthony DiComo, mets.com
• Marlins: "The first step in Jose Fernandez's throwing program is underway. The 22-year-old Marlins ace made 25 throws from 30 feet on Wednesday at Marlins Park." - "Fernandez begins throwing program" - Joe Frisaro, marlins.com
• Braves: "Nobody can say Greg Walker doesn’t know hitting. He does. Nor can anyone say he doesn’t know how to coach hitters. He has." - "The Braves’ Walker: A good coach got bad results" - Mark Bradley blog, AJC.com
• Phillies: "Cliff Lee on Friday had an MRI on his left elbow at the Rothman Institute. The team said the MRI showed positive results, as his flexor tendon is healing well." - "Surgery for Ruiz, Revere among Phils' injury updates" - Todd Zolecki, phillies.com