Washington’s Nationals earned the right to play in the NLDS with Tuesday’s dramatic win over the Milwaukee Brewers, but they didn’t have much time to enjoy that victory before they had to start preparing for the best-of-five series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo said the quick turnaround was actually a good thing.
“We’re glad we’re playing tomorrow,” Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies in his weekly interview on Wednesday. “You don’t need too much of a rest and a layover, we’ve gone through those four days and five days layover, and they’re no fun.
“We take off this morning, 11:00 [AM] bus is going to the airport, fly to LA, work out tonight, tee it up tomorrow and be ready to go.”
The Wild Card win was a big step for the franchise, but as soon as it was over, and after a little celebrating, the team’s attention quickly turned to the Division Series.
“Yeah, there’s a lot more to do,” Davey Martinez said once the team arrived in LA.
“We have to start by playing Game 1. Focus on Game 1. Those guys, we’re all excited about what happened yesterday and what transpired. But they understand what’s ahead of them. So today we got our plan, got to sleep in our own bed last night, got up this morning, got on a plane. Wanted them all to come to the ballpark and kind of stretch and take some ground balls and whatnot and get ready for tomorrow.”
Getting through the win-or-go-home matchup with the Brewers was big, because now the Nationals and Dodgers play a best-of-five series, which is the opportunity the team wanted all along.
“I think guys were relieved,” tonight’s starter Patrick Corbin said.
“In one game anything can happen. We have been saying that for awhile. Last night didn’t look like it was going our way. Guys kept battling, kept us in the game. It was just a huge victory for us to get to this, to have a five-game series is something that we have wanted.
“So, yeah, last night was exciting. It’s behind us now and we’re looking forward to playing the Dodgers and having an opportunity to play multiple games.”
Martinez said that he was still approaching every game the same way they approached the Wild Card matchup and every game before that this season, with a focus on going 1-0 each day.
There is, of course, increased pressure on the Postseason stage, so what, if anything, can the team do to stay focused on the task at hand?
“I think just trying to calm yourself down and trying to take it as it’s just another baseball game,” Anthony Rendon told reporters in his pre-NLDS presser in Dodger Stadium.
“And try not to let too many other variables, playoff variables, the crowd, or the noise, or anything get into you, or the adrenaline. Just knowing it’s playoff baseball your heart gets ready more and more and more and you’re more excited. So just trying to calm yourself down and realize the bases are still 90 feet, the fences are still relatively 320 down the left field line. 400 to center. Just go out there and try to play baseball.”