As much as they needed it and as enjoyable as it was, the Washington Nationals were cautious when asked after last night’s comeback from a 9-0 deficit against the Miami Marlins, about reading too much into it.
While they all clearly hope it sparks something, first-year manager Davey Martinez shared his thoughts on hoping vs believing before the 14-12 victory over their divisional rivals.
“I talk to other teams coming in, coaches, players, whatever, and they always say, ‘Hey, this thing ain’t over. We know you guys are good.’ But we’ve got to believe that within, the word hope to me is — it’s not proactive, it’s reactive. The word belief is proactive. So we need to believe that we’re going to win every day.”
Even when they fell behind last night they believed that they could make a game of it.
“I can’t speak for everybody,” Trea Turner said, after he homered twice (with one of the two a grand slam), and drove in eight runs, “but we were down 7-0 I felt like we still for sure had a shot. 9-0 hurts a little bit more, but we did it. I think once we got that first run on the board, it kind of just got the momentum back on our side and continued to push and I think that’s what we’re capable of.”
“It was weird,” Shawn Kelley said, after he earned the win with a scoreless inning of work in relief, “cause even though — it got lopsided, but the phone was still ringing, it kind of had a weird vibe, like, even though we got down, I think that everybody just kind of in a weird way had a feeling that we were going to make this a game.
“We all needed to be ready to pitch and there were situations that presented themselves where as early as it was, pitcher’s spots were coming up, so we were all on alert and ready and just trying to help get as many zeroes as we could and give the offense a chance.
“It was a weird feeling that the offense was going to do something.”
While the phone was ringing in the bullpen and Kelley and the rest of the relief corps were doing what they could, in the dugout Matt Adams, who went 4 for 5 in the win, said he felt things might just work out.
“I think that’s definitely the way it felt in there, and I think it just starts with our leaders,” he said.
“You see our leaders still cheering, rooting everybody on, and I think that’s just contagious, and just the leadership and the veterans we have on this team they’ve been in these situations before. To see them calm and collected, we just wanted to get the job done.”
Will it be the start of something for the Nationals, who snapped a five-game losing streak, but have lost 20 of their last 30 games?
“I think we’ve just got to take it one game at a time, not get ahead of ourselves, and just put together wins, try to win a series, and I think that’s what we’re focused on from here on out,” Adams said. “Win two out of three, win three out of four, and if that’s the case we know the wins will start stacking on top of each other.”
“It was a huge momentum swing for us,” Turner said.
“If we can continue to ride that and play good baseball like we did ... after maybe the first four innings or so, but play good baseball and I think we can beat anybody.”
“It was a good win,” Martinez said, “but we’ve still got stuff to do. After the game, it’s funny, cause I sat there and the first thing I thought about was trying to fix Justin Miller, and trying to get him to relax a little bit. Those were my thoughts. Cause we need him, he’s a big part of what we do, and I just need him to kind of relax and be that guy, I mean, he just had an unbelievable outing for us in Philly.”
Miller gave up a double and a walk to the two batters he faced last night, and both of them scored when Kelvin Herrera gave up a three-run blast after taking over on the mound.
It’s been a rough stretch for the right-hander, who tossed 10 2⁄3 scoreless for the Nationals before he gave up a run this season, but has now given up runs in seven of 10 appearances.
“We ask him to do things he’s not comfortable doing and he’s been doing it,” Martinez said, “he’s a big part of what we have going on and he will be a big part of what we have going on.”
It was an emotional night for the team and its fans, who were booing angrily when it looked like the Nationals were heading for a sixth straight loss, and cheering wildly when they took the lead.
“Maybe the people that booed left,” Kelley joked, while noting that it was a weird night for everyone involved.
“It’s a swing and everybody feels the energy. The team, from probably a little bit of ‘Here we go again,’ early, to, ‘Hey now there’s something going on,’ and then BOOM! finally Trea’s grand slam there, and it was just you could feel the energy of people there and in the dugout and that was a special inning so hopefully that’s something that we’ll look back on a month or two from now or four or five months from now and be like, ‘Man, that changed the course of the season and Shawn Kelley did it all, and got the win.’”
“If in like a week now we’ve won seven in a row it’s a really big game.”