If you thought Davey Martinez was going to change things up, and not focus on going 1-0 every day and staying in the fight just because the Nationals are in the World Series now, you haven’t being paying attention this season.
Heading into his first World Series game as a manager and the first World Series game for a Washington, D.C. based team since 1933, Martinez was on script when he was asked about his emotions before the start of the Fall Classic.
“I feel great,” the second-year skipper told reporters. “I preached all along about: Stay in the fight, go 1-0, and this is no different. I talked to the players yesterday. We were all upbeat.
“They were excited. We’re all excited. I told them they worked unbelievable to get here, so here we go. Big stage, a big moment.
“And like I said, I’m proud of where we’re at and I’m proud to be associated with the Washington Nationals and the fact that we are one of two teams playing for a World Championship.”
As for the fine line between enjoying the moment, and remaining focused on the task at hand, Martinez said that’s where the whole “1-0 every day” mentality comes into play.
“The biggest thing for me is just to not get ahead of ourselves,” Martinez said. “I tell them: Win. We talked about this before. What does that word ‘win’ mean? What’s important now? So let’s stay in the here and now and go from there.”
With a week to visualize how things would go in the World Series after the Nationals swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS, Martinez said he did have time to consider how things might work out for Washington.
How did he imagine it could go from a pitching perspective, with Max Scherzer on the hill against Astros’ ace Gerrit Cole in Game 1?
“I imagined it could be really good. What do you want me to imagine?” Martinez said, getting a good laugh out of the reporters in Houston.
“Like I sit here and I’m thinking about the matchups, like today. I wake up in the morning, I say, ‘You’ve got Scherzer against Cole. Wow.’
“If you’re not a baseball fan right now, man, this is exciting times.
“But I really like our chances. I like our guys. Like I said yesterday, they came out here and they were loose, they were having fun. They were checking out the ballpark. A lot of them have never played here. It was pretty cool just watching them just kind of relax and go out there and do their thing.”
In spite of the big stage, and the pressure, however, Martinez wasn’t thinking big picture, but still only thinking about going 1-0 every day, when he was asked if he’d wrapped his mind around what it would mean to get the franchise’s first World Series win.
“I wrap my mind about trying to win today’s game. And I want to focus on today’s game,” he said.
He did think ahead and consider how he was going to get the 27 outs the Nationals needed to win Game 1.
“No, it’s part of the game. This is stuff that’s thought out, for me, way in advance. Like I said, as we had so many days off, I spent those days off imagining Game 1 and seeing how things would play out. And then processing everything and then going to our analytical guys, talking to coaches, pitching coach, and then relaying some stuff to our players. I had great conversations yesterday with a lot of our players about what we want to do and how we want to attack this thing, and it was all great conversations.”
Martinez’s club took the first game from the Astros on the road, 5-4, with Max Scherzer out there for just five innings, while the Nationals scored five runs on eight hits off Cole, who’d given up just one run in 22 2⁄3 IP before last night.
The Nationals’ skipper went to Patrick Corbin in the sixth, Tanner Rainey and Daniel Hudson in the seventh, and eight for Hudson, and Sean Doolittle to finish up the eighth and wrap up the ninth.
Going back to one of his starters out of the bullpen, and piecing together a win, is that how he’s going to handle things again, as he did in the Wild Card, NLDS, and NLCS?
“For me it’s about playing one game,” Martinez said. “And that’s what we focus on, is just worry about the game at hand and then go from there.
“This is stuff, like I said, based on conversations I have with our guys and what they can do and how they feel.”
And getting the current D.C. franchise’s first World Series win (and a 1-0 lead in the series)?
“It’s huge,” the second-year skipper told reporters. “They waited a long time to get to this position. I’m super happy that I’m a part of it. We’re elated to be here, really. The city, the fans, we’ve got the Capitals wearing helmets playing the game, they’ve got name tags up there with the big W on there. The city is going crazy.
“What can I say about it? And I’ll keep going back to those guys in the clubhouse. I mean, I’m just a tiny piece of the puzzle. These guys, what they’ve gone through all year long, I’m super proud of them. And we come here to Houston, who’s got a really good team, and we play good baseball and we end up winning the game.
“We’ve got to do it again tomorrow.”