Coming off back-to-back walk-off losses, the Washington Nationals still showed up ready to play in last night’s matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals, but four innings in they were down 5-0. They battled back, with Matt Wieters driving in a run with a line drive single in the fifth, Bryce Harper hitting a two-run homer in the eighth, and Daniel Murphy making it close with an RBI single later that inning, but they fell short for the third straight game, dropping a 6-4 decision to the Cards.
Davey Martinez said he liked the energy from his team even after they fell behind early last night.
“It was good,” Martinez explained, “and then we fall behind, you know, but they battled, they battled back. Harp, a big two-run homer there, and they really felt like, ‘We’ve still got a chance.’ They’ve been scoring a lot of runs. The energy is there. These guys, like I said, they don’t quit. They’re going to fight and they’re going to fight till the end, and I love them, I really do. I mean, they’re playing well.”
How is he gauging the energy? Is it expressed vocally by the team in the clubhouse and in the dugout, or is it a feeling he’s picking up on?
“Both,” the first-year skipper said. “Guys are coming in fired up and you can feel that they’re engaged. The at bats have been good, and they’re engaged. They want to win every game.”
Of course, they’re not winning every game, and, in fact, at a crucial point in the season, the Nationals have lost three straight and six of the last 10 to fall back to .500 with 42 games to play. To get to 90 wins and a reasonable chance at the postseason, the Nats need to win 30 of 42. Does this seem like a team capable of that sort of run?
Is the team worn down by the rough stretch they’ve gone through?
“This time of year you can’t be worn down,” Martinez said. “We’ve got to keep fighting.
“We’re playing for something. They know that, and they’re not going to quit. And they get it. You hear them talking about at bats and talking amongst each other about what to look for and, ‘Grind it out,’ and all this good stuff. So we’ve just got to keep going, keep going. This thing will turn around. We’re good. I’ve said that before, we’re really good. We’ve had some bad breaks. But we’re good.”
So far this season, they’ve been “good”, sure, but after a 48-48 first-half and after going 12-12 in the first 24 games of the “second half”, they’re not good enough to put themselves in postseason contention.
Will they start a run tonight?