Dusty Baker told reporters before the start of Saturday night’s game with the Phillies that he planned on giving his healthy regulars a rest with the “youngsters” starting in today’s series finale in the nation’s capital.
Though he’s giving his players a day off, Baker said he had no intention of holding back over the last few weeks even though the division is all-but sewn up.
"There's still time to win as many games as we can,” Baker explained, as quoted by MLB.com, “... because a month ago people thought catching the Dodgers was an impossibility.”
"Now, we're a lot closer than we were before. Plus, they're coming in here for three days [beginning Friday]."
He said much the same after last night’s game, a 5-4 loss to Philadelphia, when asked if it added any excitement or changed anything that the Nationals’ loss and the Atlanta Braves’ win over the second-place Miami Marlins reduced the magic number to win a fourth division crown in the last six season to two (any combination of two wins, or a win and a Marlins’ loss).
“It doesn’t change anything, because it’s inevitable,” Baker said.
“So you go out and you play and you hope to pick up another game on the Dodgers, which was big tonight too because they’re losing and behind, so no it doesn’t change anything we just got to go out and play and we have some young players that are going to play tomorrow, because our guys [have played] 21 games in 20 days, so these guys need a blow and tomorrow is a perfect time, might as well just go — take them all out and go for it.”
The Dodgers did end up losing last night too, dropping their ninth straight.
And the Nationals are, of course, starting Stephen Strasburg, so it’s not all youngsters out there.