The Washington Nationals ended the three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies last weekend on a high note, with a comeback win in the finale on Sunday night that allowed the Nats to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of their NL East rivals and the second-place team in the division.
Was the win more significant than just one game? Daniel Murphy, whose two-run single in the eighth inning on Sunday completed a comeback from a 6-2 deficit, was asked if their win was more significant than just one game, and could spark something in a team that’s struggled to score runs or put together consistent offensive production.
“It’s tough to say how this game is going to impact the future,” Murphy said. noting the obvious, that predicting the future is difficult.
“But it was a good win. We’re coming out of the rain delay 2-2, and then all of a sudden you look up and they have some great at bats and it’s 6-2, and you’re thinking, ‘We have a chance to get swept out of here,’ but to salvage that game right there, play well, come back from down like that, bullpen did a great job giving us a chance to do it as well, threw up some big zeroes there late in the game, I don’t know how it will affect us moving forward, but I can tell you a win heading on the airplane is a lot sweeter than a loss.”
Murphy went 5 for 12 in that series, and as Nats’ skipper Martinez noted the next night, the game provided a glimpse of what a healthy Murphy brings to the Nationals’ lineup.
“You see what he did for us yesterday,” Martinez said on Monday afternoon.
“That’s the Murphy that I’ve seen for years. The guy is a professional hitter, and to throw him in the middle of our lineup, it creates more length in our lineup, which is really nice.”
Unfortunately the momentum didn’t carry over to the Nationals’ two-game set in Tampa Bay, where they got shut out in back-to-back losses, the sixth and seventh shutout losses in their 22 games this month.
Martinez addressed the Nationals’ struggles at the plate following the 1-0 loss in the second of two with the Rays on Tuesday.
“We’ve just got to keep battling,” the first-year skipper said.
“We had our chances there at the end and we just couldn’t come up with the big hit.”
“I see these guys grinding, I know how much work they put in, and sometimes this is how it goes,” Max Scherzer said, after the Nationals’ 1-0 loss to the Rays on Tuesday.
“We’re going to hit the baseball. Right now we’ve just got to continue to grind out these ABs and try to look forward and just do the little things right, that’s on the mound, and continue to work ahead in the counts and play defense and offense comes and goes and hitting is contagious so once we get some hits they’ll start going.”
Discussing the continued inability to come up with the big hits (outside of Murphy’s two-run single on Sunday, and some of the other hits that allowed them to rally against the Phils), is it hard to believe the team is struggling to score runs with all the talent they have assembled?
“It’s going to come,” Martinez said.
“There’s a few days in a row where you see it, and honestly yesterday we faced a pretty good pitcher [in Blake Snell], and today [Nathan Eovaldi] was pretty good himself. We’ve just got to keep battling.”
Tonight in Citizens Bank Park, the Nationals face Philadelphia Phillies’ righty Aaron Nola, who held Nats’ hitters to four hits, three walks, and two earned runs in six innings in the Phillies’ 5-2 win last Saturday in Nationals Park.