After the Nationals salvaged the series finale of their three-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies this past weekend in Washington, D.C., Bryce Harper talked about how big a win it was following back-to-back losses in the first two with the NL East’s second place team.
“I think it’s a huge win,” Harper said. “We don’t want to get swept here. You never want to lose three straight. Phillies are a great team, they’re going to be good all year long, and Atlanta as well.
“So just got to keep playing ball, keep doing our thing, and see where we’re at.”
First-year skipper Davey Martinez shared his thoughts on the Nats’ NL East rivals before the third of three in D.C.
“They don’t quit,” Martinez said. “They keep battling, they battle, they battle. Yesterday we jumped out to a 2-0 lead, they came right back.
“They’re good, and my concern is the Nationals and the boys in that clubhouse over there and getting them ready to play today.
“We just got to come out — if we come out and play the way we’re capable of playing, we have a really good ballclub, there’s no doubt, and I believe at the end of the day we’ll be right where we need to be.”
Going into tonight’s game and the long-weekend series in Citizens Bank Park, the Nationals and Phillies have split the first six they’ve played this season, all of them in Nationals Park.
Martinez’s squad is limping into the City of Brotherly Love, however, having been shut out in back-to-back games in Tampa Bay, which left the Nationals 8-14 so far in June, with losses in 11 of their last 15, and shutout losses in seven of 22 games this month.
“This day off couldn’t come soon enough really,” he said. “We’ve had a rough go with our schedule here the last few days, so a little break will do the boys right.
“Let’s take that day off, enjoy it, and go to Philly and come back and try to play and win the game.”
Tanner Roark gets the start for the Nationals in the series opener, and he’ll try to bounce back after giving up seven hits, four walks, and six earned runs in just 4 1⁄3 innings in his start in the series with the Phillies this past weekend.
Roark said he spent time studying film after he was lifted from the game, and was able to identify a mechanical flaw he thought could help him turn things around after another in a rough stretch of starts, which have seen him give up 21 hits, eight walks, and 13 runs in his last 14 1⁄3 innings pitched over his last three outings..
“I think it’s a small little mechanical thing that I’m going through right now,” Roark said, “... and just sometimes [you] overthink it, but I was watching film for the rest of the game and was looking at myself in ‘16.
“It’s always minor things and something with timing and so that’s what I kind of looked at and was kind of comparing from ‘16 to this year.”