The Nationals finished their seven-game trip with a 25-15 record on the road this season, and returned to Nationals Park, where they were 18-14 before last night’s extra-innings win.
Dusty Baker told reporters before the first of three with the Cincinnati Reds that it was a big opportunity for the Nationals to finish the first half strong.
They started the season with a 9.5-game lead in the NL East.
“It’s time for us to make up big-time ground,” Baker said.
“It’s time for us to establish home superiority, and we’ve only got three games on the road and that’s only one time-change difference. That’s huge.
“So now it’s just a — it’s probably our longest stretch of being home, right? For the whole year, pretty close, right?”
Part of having a home field advantage is having the crowd behind you, boosting the players’ energy and cheering them on.
Baker talked at times last season about having fans in the nation’s capital bring more life to the park.
He noted after Game 1 of the NLDS with the Los Angeles Dodgers what a difference it made to have a loud crowd of 43,915 behind them.
“I tell you,” Baker said, “wish it was like that every day. It’s only like that every day in a few places, and I loved the sea of red, a lot more red than blue, and it made us feel good, and I think it was a great atmosphere, it was a good atmosphere and we want to do something to show our appreciation for the home fans like win today.”
After last night’s win, Baker addressed the energy-level in the nation’s capital again when he talked to reporters after Bryce Harper’s big hit in the tenth.
“It was a good game,” Baker said.
“It was a good game for the fans. I just wish in a situation like that we’d have a little more noise and energy in the ballpark, and that really helps us out, especially when you’re home, because when we’re on the road there is plenty of noise on the other side.”
Were you in Nationals Park last night? Was it quieter than usual? Is Baker right to ask for more enthusiasm from the crowd?
Baker wasn’t here for Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS which was the loudest crowd I’d ever heard to that point.
The NLDS crowds last October were plenty loud Anthony Rendon noticed.
“It was a great atmosphere last night,” Rendon told reporters when he talked before the second game of the series with LA.
“I guess some of our comments and some of our pleas with the Nationals fans are finally getting heard. It's fun to see the excitement back in D.C. with baseball.
“They were amazing last night and I hope they continue to bring it out every time we go out on the field.”
Of course, that’s another acknowledgement that it isn’t always like that, at least in some of the players’ opinions... Thoughts?