Dave Martinez was greeted in the clubhouse, after his first major league win as a manager, with a beer shower from his team.
Though it delayed the start of his first post game press conference, Martinez said that the celebration was “a good one,” while also declining to share any details, joking, “you’ve got to be in the Circle [of Trust].”
Going into the season opener, Martinez was excited about the opportunity to get going and get his first game as an MLB skipper in the books, after a 24-hour delay when the Cincinnati Reds postponed the opener due to inclement weather.
“Pretty excited,” Martinez said before the game.
“Looking forward to it. We’ve got Max [Scherzer] on the mound and I know the boys have been itching. We had to wait an extra day, so we’re ready to go.”
Scherzer gave the Nationals six scoreless on 100 pitches, striking out 10 of the 24 batters he faced before Martinez turned to the bullpen with a 1-0 lead in the seventh, courtesy of the run that scored in the top of the first when Adam Eaton singled, went first-to-third one out later on a single by Bryce Harper, and scored when Harper went in hard at second to disrupt a potential inning-ending double play.
Michael A. Taylor manufactured a run in the top of the ninth as well, bunting for a single, stealing second base, taking third on a groundout, and scoring on a sac fly to give closer Sean Doolittle a little breathing room when he took the mound for the save after Brandon Kintzler and Ryan Madson threw scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth, respectively.
Overall, it was a clean win in the first game.
“We played the game really well,” Martinez said after the win, and his beer shower. “Like I said, 27 quick outs, we just worked quality at bats. Do the little things. Really proud of Harper going into second base and getting a bad throw, that’s key. That started off right there, the guys were excited about it, and then Taylor coming up in the last inning and laying down a beautiful bunt, getting to second base, then going to third, all those things matter, the little things matter in this game.”
Taylor took third in spite of the fact that the Matt Wieters’ grounder was hit to short.
Taylor’s speed helped him avoid getting thrown out at third for the first out of the inning.
“For me, he read what was going on, and he had a great jump, and he made it, you know,” Martinez said.
“We’re going to play aggressive, I’ve said that from the beginning. I know in Spring Training I let them do what they wanted to do, but it’s good to see them playing aggressive.”
Scherzer was aggressive on the mound as well, attacking hitters, piling up strikeouts, and keeping the Reds’ offense at bay.
The Nationals’ ace was up to 88 pitches after five innings, and Martinez said he kept a close eye on the righty after sending him out for the sixth.
“We were monitoring him, we talked to him the inning before, and he said he felt great, but I wasn’t going to let him go that much longer, I wasn’t. It’s day one, and he did a great job.”
“I thought we just had a really good game plan of what pitches to throw and how to sequence guys,” Scherzer told reporters after his 2018 debut.
“We had a really good plan, and Wieters did a great job behind the plate, just calling — mixing between in and out, hard and soft, and just did a good job of not making any mistakes, and working on the edges, and avoiding the big inning.
“It was tight there with 1-0, in this ballpark you can’t make mistakes, and you’ve got to keep executing pitches in those situations. And that’s what I said, we had a plan, Wieters called it, and I executed it.”
Martinez was asked after the game if there was a point at which he realized that he had to start managing, after all the excitement of the day was out of the way.
“The biggest thing for me is not to become a fan, and just manage the game,” he said, “and that’s basically what I did. I stayed focused all game. It was hard not be a fan of Scherzer, watching him pitch, but I knew that he’s not going to pitch all nine innings, and we had to start doing some things, and great lines of communication with him. I told him the biggest thing for him and I is to communicate, because we need him for the whole season, and it worked out great.”
Everything worked out in the opener, and Martinez got to celebrate his first win before he started thinking about Game 2 of 162.
“I probably won’t sleep for a while tonight,” he admitted.
“Just because of the excitement and getting ready for tomorrow, but we’ve already started discussing tomorrow and what we need to do for tomorrow.”