Going in to the series finale with the Philadelphia Phillies last night in Citizens Bank Park, Davey Martinez’s Washington Nationals had scored just four earned runs off Philly right-hander Aaron Nola in four starts and 28 2⁄3 IP this season.
The Nationals scored four runs on six hits in five innings against Nola on Wednesday, with both Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman homering off the 2018 NL Cy Young candidate, who’s now given up seven home runs in his last 17 2⁄3 IP, as many as he’d allowed over his previous 151 2⁄3 IP this season.
“They were aggressive in the strike zone but they got the ball up in the strike zone,” Martinez told reporters after the win.
“Nola has been good all year long, and a testament to our guys, they were ready and they swung the bats well.”
Was the game plan going in to jump on Nola early?
“Be aggressive but get the ball up in the strike zone, that was our intention today,” Martinez explained, “and we got him early.
“Bryce hit a changeup that was up in the strike zone and we scored early so that was perfect.”
The win was the Nationals’ fifth in a row after they swept doubleheaders with the Cubs on Saturday and Phillies on Tuesday before taking the series finale in Citizens Bank.
They’ll try to make it six straight this afternoon in the makeup game of the series finale with the Cubs, which was postponed due to rain in the nation’s capital on Sunday.
While their chances of making a third straight trip to the postseason are down to just 1.5% according to Fangraphs.com, the Nationals are continuing to play hard down the stretch, and they’ve impressed their manager.
“We’re not going to give up and we’re going to finish this out, whatever the outcome ends up being we’re just going to finish out and finish strong,” Martinez said.