Davey Martinez dove in before any of the reporters at his post game press conference even asked a question after the Washington Nationals’ 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in their series opener last night.
“That was exciting,” Martinez said, before continuing, unprompted, to discuss his team’s performance in the first game of four with the Pirates in the nation’s capital.
“We’ve got to start scoring runs when we can. They’re playing well, they really are, but when we have a chance to put teams away, we’ve got start putting them away, we really do.
“We had our opportunities to knock [Jameson] Taillon out, and we couldn’t do it, but we’ve got to start doing it.
“We’ve got to start putting teams away when we can. But I’m proud of them. They’re playing with a lot of energy, a lot of heart.”
Martinez’s Nationals went 3 for 11 with runners in scoring position and eight left on base in what ended up being Washington’s second win in ten one-run games this season.
What does the Nats’ first-year skipper want to see his team do to make adjustments and be able to put teams away?
“I just want to see better contact,” he said. “Like moving the ball, like really focusing on — like I said, when we score a lot of runs, we typically hit the ball up the middle. [Wilmer] Difo, big hit, up the middle, so when you’ve got runners on base, try to stay up the middle of the field, a lot of hits up the middle of the field, and just move the ball.
“We have opportunities, lots of them, so we’ve got to capitalize, I mean, we really do.”
The Nationals’ .224/.356/.374 line with runners in scoring position as a team after Monday’s game had them ranked 13th/7th/12th across the line among National League teams after 29 games.
There’s certainly room for improvement with the lineup they’re currently fielding, and even more when/if the likes of Daniel Murphy, Adam Eaton, Brian Goodwin and Anthony Rendon are back.
Right now, however, the players that are available have to do what they can to push runs across and take some of the pressure off the starting rotation and bullpen, especially the back end arms likes Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson, and Sean Doolittle.
“If we start scoring runs, we can give these guys days off, but we’ve played so many one-run games already it’s scary, I mean it really is,” Martinez said.
“But they’re all ready and they all want to participate every day. But I know I’ve got to take care of those guys in order to do what we want to do towards the end of the year.”
They’ve played, and lost, eight of the ten one-run games they’ve played in the first month-plus, but the positive spin would be that the Nationals have been in a lot of the games, in spite of the act that they’re fielding a lineup they didn’t expect to penciling in every day.
Martinez said he’s seen positive signs and likes the way his team is playing.
“They’ve got heart,” he said, “and I’m getting a lot more grays I’ve noticed for these one-run games, but they play with heart, they really do. They feel like they’re in every game, and we are, and they’re starting to — I can see the confidence in the dugout, they’re starting to really, really get confidence, which is nice, and they believe they can win all these games.”