Dusty Baker talked after the Washington Nationals swept their three-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies about the difficulty of putting a team away.
"It's always hard to take that last breath out of the opposition," Baker said, after the Phillies tried to rally late in the finale in Citizens Bank Park.
"They're always going to make one more run, usually in the seventh, eighth and ninth and today it was in the ninth, but now off to Cincinnati, we've got an off day and then we can play all out for three more days and we've got another off day and then start the long streak."
The streak he referred to is a stretch of 16-straight games that begins with Tuesday's series opener against the White Sox in Chicago and ends with a six-game road trip to San Diego and LA, then there's an off day on June 23rd, and 17-straight leading into the All-Star Break.
"But right now we've got to concentrate on Cincinnati," Baker said, "because we haven't seen them, they have a bunch of players that we don't know and a bunch of guys from the minor leagues that we don't know that we're going to call upon our minor league staff or somebody that's seen them in the past to try to give us an idea of how to combat them."
In the series opener with the Reds, the Nationals struggled to generate much in the way of offense against left-handed starter Brandon Finnegan, who held them to a run on five hits in 6 ⅓ innings.
"That's the first time I had seen him," Baker said, after the 7-2 loss to Finnegan and the Reds.
"I don't know if we had seen him last year or not, but his fastball was good. his breaking ball was pretty good.
"He was locating that fastball, he was basically pitching ahead of the hitters. If you do that with good velocity, then you've got a good chance to win which he did tonight."
On Saturday, it was some old foes, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, and a new one, Adam Duvall, who homered to drive in all six runs the Reds scored in their 6-3 victory, while Dan Straily held the Nationals to two runs in six innings.
Stephen Strasburg gave up three runs before he left the outing with cramping in his right calf, with the Nationals down 3-2, but Danny Espinosa homered off Ross Ohlendorf to tie it up before Duvall's three-run blast to right field off Shawn Kelley put Cincinnati ahead for good.
"Shawn [Kelley] has been lights out all year and he had [Duvall] 1-2 had a couple pitches to work with and he just kind of threw a cement mixer that didn't break and it was to a hot hitter," Baker said.
Duvall was on a roll, going 12 for 44 (.273/.289/.795) with two doubles and seven home runs in 11 games after hitting a double and a home run in the series opener with the Nationals.
He went 1 for 3 with the three-run blast in the second game of three with the Nats in Great American Ball Park.
"He could have popped it up, but he didn't miss it. But like I said, it was 1-2, and he threw a ball in a location he didn't want to throw it."
The Reds, as a team, have been on a bit of a roll as well, with wins in 5 of their last six after they snapped an 11-game losing streak.
The Nationals will have to try to salvage one in the series finale this afternoon. Tanner Roark takes the mound to face the Reds at 1:10 PM EDT against right-hander Jon Moscot, who's looking for his first win of the season.
Here's the lineup for the third game of three in GABP:
#Nats vs #Reds 3 of 3: Revere - LF; Taylor - CF; Harper - RF; Murphy - 2B; Ramos - C; Rendon - 3B; Robinson - 1B; Espinosa - SS; Roark - RHP— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) June 5, 2016