Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez talked in his press conference in Nationals Park yesterday about taking nothing for granted, in spite of the fact that the Nats returned to D.C. with a 2-0 lead over the Houston Astros in the World Series. The focus, for Martinez and his club, is still on going “1-0 every day”, though the “Stay in the Fight!” mantra is now slightly different.
“Finish the Fight” signs are popping up around the club’s home ballpark.
“We talked about this yesterday about complacency,” Martinez told reporters on Thursday afternoon.
“I don’t think our guys would ever do that, but we said, ‘Hey, we’ve still got a lot of baseball left.’
“We’ve just got to focus on today and go home, rest, and get ready to play and go 1-0 again.
“That’s been the message all year. We don’t try to get ahead of ourselves.
“These guys need to understand the focus on the here and now and do the little things.
“That’s what’s got us here. And we’ve got to continue to do that.”
Astros’ skipper A.J. Hinch told reporters that even with the hole they find themselves in early in the series, his club has confidence they can get back into it.
“I think we’re still optimistic,” he said.
“We understand that we missed a couple of opportunities to win at home, certainly with our big boys pitching.
“But to be around our club is to know that our club has a lot of confidence and we have a lot of resilience. A week ago we lost Game 1 to the Yankees and they were going to sweep us.
“We have to bounce back in this ballpark similar to how we did at Yankee Stadium, and put pressure back on the Nats to have to try to close it out.”
Hinch’s club has Zack Greinke going against Nationals’ starter Aníbal Sánchez in Game 3.
Greinke shut the Nationals out when he was still part of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ rotation in June.
Martinez talked after that outing about what the Cy Young award-winner was able to do to keep the Nationals at bay in that game, in which he took a no-hit bid into the seventh, and allowed just two hits total in 7 1⁄3 scoreless in Nationals Park.
“He’s hitting his spots, with everything. His changeup was really good,” Martinez said.
“Threw some curveballs that were really good. Fastball command was really, really good.
“When he’s like that, and he’s got two points on the board early, you’ve got to battle.”
As for their approach against the recently-turned 36-year-old starter in that game?
“Very seldom did he throw the ball out over the middle of the plate. If you look, everything was corners, corners, corners. We wanted to be aggressive early, it just didn’t — like I said, when he’s on like that, he’s tough.”
Houston acquired Greinke from Arizona at the trade deadline in July, and over his final 10 starts in the regular season, the right-hander put up a 3.02 ERA, nine walks, 52 Ks, and a .246/.275/.369 line against in 62 2⁄3 IP.
In three postseason starts this month, however, Greinke has struggled some, going (0-2) with a 6.43 ERA, five walks, 16 Ks, and a .268/.339/.571 line against in 14 IP.
Will the Nationals be able to figure Greinke out tonight and take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series, or will the Astros get back into it?
HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR GAME 3 OF THE WORLD SERIES:
NOTES: Asdrúbal Cabrera over Howie Kendrick at second base? That’s an interesting choice on Davey Martinez’s part after the way he’s leaned over the last few weeks. Cabrera is 16 for 37 (.432/.512/.568), with three doubles, a triple, six walks, and two Ks against Greinke, while Kendrick is 5 for 20. Greinke held right-handed hitters to a .235/.262/.378 line in the regular season, but has also held left-handed hitters to a .221/.257/.349 line, so...