Dusty Baker was, of course, happy with the Washington Nationals' three-game sweep of the New York Mets last week, but he was clear after the series finale with the Nats' NL East rivals that there could be no letup.
Staying motivated for four with Cincinnati and three with Milwaukee wouldn't be a problem, however, Baker said.
"That's no problem, keeping them motivated," Baker explained. "Motivation comes from within, all you can do is stimulate that motivation. And you just can't overlook anybody. I mean, the Reds, they almost swept us up in Cincinnati. Milwaukee almost swept us in Milwaukee, so you certainly can't overlook anybody, because any time you get a good-pitched game -- the Reds, they're scoring a lot of runs, but they're also giving up more runs than they're scoring, so our job is to keep scoring on our side and prevent them from scoring."
After taking 3 of 4 from the Reds, the Nationals were 18-12 in their last 30 games, with a 26-13 record at home in the nation's capital this season. A loss to the Brewers on Monday left them 1-3 against Milwaukee this season and 50-34 overall on the year with a 4.0 game lead over the Mets and a 6.5 game lead over the third place Miami Marlins.
There are two more with the Brewers including tonight's game and then four with the Mets in New York to wrap up the so-called "first half" of the 2016 campaign.
Baker was asked after yesterday's loss to the assess the state of the Nationals as they stand right now.
"I"m relatively happy," he said, "but when it comes to winning and victories, I'm a greedy man, so you have no choice but to be happy at this point, but we've got six tough games to go and we'd like to finish strong."
"You want to gain momentum through the break," Baker told reporters last week, "and then you want to pick up momentum very quickly after the break."
Will the Nationals finish strong? Will they win the series with the Brewers and head to New York on a positive note?
Here's the lineup that will take on the Brewers tonight in the second game of three with Milwaukee in D.C.:
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