Washington’s Nationals, after last night’s win in Milwaukee, have a 15.0-game lead in the NL East, and a magic number of 13 to wrap up the division and earn their fourth postseason appearance in the last six seasons.
With last night’s loss, after taking the first two with the NL East leaders in Miller Park, the Brewers are now 4.5 games out in the NL Central and 1.5 games out in the race for the second Wild Card spot.
Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker talked before the third of four in Milwaukee about facing a team that’s fighting for its life and trying to stay in the race for a postseason spot.
“Hey, man,” Baker said, “they’re going to pull out all the stops. These teams like this are dangerous, because every game is a potential playoff game for them, so they’ll do anything at any time, and you know hunger can make you do a lot of things you didn’t know you could do.”
Baker’s Nationals needed an eighth-inning rally to take the third game of four with the Brewers, and it came against left-hander Josh Hader, who wasn’t quite as sharp as he was on Friday night.
Michael A. Taylor hit a leadoff bomb to left, tying it up at 2-2, and Wilmer Difo bunted his way on before Trea Turner doubled to drive the go-ahead run.
Baker was asked after the game if the Nationals changed their approach after getting a look at the Brewers’ lefty the previous night, when he retired three batters in order, striking them all out in a 12-pitch, 10-strike frame.
“No, not really,” he said. “We didn’t have a different approach cause he threw the same, we just caught up to a couple of the fastballs that we didn’t catch up to last night, and plus I think the more guys -- the more you play here the more you get used to the differences in the light that you have out here. So we just caught up to some of them and luckily for us Michael deposited that over the fence, and Difo laid down the perfect bunt and then Trea hit the double into left-center and that was kind of the ballgame.
“But, man, you know things weren’t going our way most of the night. We were hitting balls hard and they were just blooping some balls, and infield hits, and off of [Ryan Zimmerman’s] glove, and when things start going the another team’s way it seems like they get the breaks, they’re making their breaks, but we didn’t get many tonight but we won the ballgame.”
Now the Nationals try to even things up and earn a split of the four-game set in Miller Park.