WASHINGTON, D.C.: Los Angeles lost 16 of 17 games between August 26th and September 11th, then the Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants in two straight games in AT&T Park to earn a series win before they had to fly across the country for this weekend’s three-game set in the nation’s capital.
Dodgers’ skipper Dave Roberts told reporters, as quoted by ESPN’s Eddie Matz, that the back-to-back wins earlier this week were a welcome change after a sustained stretch of losses that followed LA’s extraordinary 53-11 run that stretched from early June to the last week of August.
"It was a good feeling to go out there and shake hands and win a series,” Roberts said in a pregame press conference today in Nationals Park. “I slept a little better."
Washington Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker talked in his own pregame presser on Friday about how excited he was for the start of the late-season matchup with the Dodgers.
“I was thinking coming in here to the ballpark, this is how it used to be when I was playing,” Baker said.
“You’ve got a big series and you’re like thinking about it the night before, you’re thinking about it during the day, it’s like, okay, let’s get down.”
Though it’s a long shot, the Nationals (89-57) start the weekend with a chance to catch the Dodgers (94-52) for the best overall record in the National League, which did not surprise the Nats’ skipper.
“I’ve seen a lot of them,” he said. “You’re told, ‘Oh, yeah, man, they’ve got the best team in baseball,’ and that’s good,” but, he continued, “... baseball has a way of kind of humbling us all and as soon as you think you’ve got it figured out — so I’m not surprised, every day you’re one game away from a 22-game winning streak like Cleveland.
“Did anybody think that on Day No. 1 they were going to win 22 in a row, and when [the Dodgers] lost 16 out of 17 or 15 out of 16, it started with one day. Did they ever think that this would snowball to this? So not much surprises me in the game, that’s why it’s a daily game.”
Both managers said they did their homework heading into this weekend’s series, with Roberts saying he’d watched the Nationals on TV to do some scouting, and Baker too saying he’d tuned in to get a look at the Dodgers since the two teams haven’t played one another since early June.
“That’s one of the perils of the unbalanced schedule,” Baker explained, “is that since June a lot has happened. A lot of players, I’m watching TV trying to scout them and I don’t know half of them, or I look at their pitching corps, and six or seven of them, we have no ABs against them, and then the same offensively, pitching against them, there are five or six that we’ve never seen, so you look at the teams that have played them tough in their division, San Diego, Arizona, Colorado, there are definitely advantages of being familiar with the opposition even though there are advantages for them, but something happened over there where Arizona has learned a whole bunch about them and we know nothing about them, so yeah, I think this is great that we’re playing them this late, even if they learn something on us, we learn a whole bunch about them.”