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Washington Nationals’ lineup for Game 4 of the NLDS with the Los Angeles Dodgers

Washington’s on the brink of elimination in their NLDS matchup with the Dodgers, but the 2019 Nationals have been here before...

Divisional Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals - Game Three Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Going into Game 3 of the NLDS with the Los Angeles Dodgers, second-year Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez talked to reporters, as he has all season, about the importance of jumping out to an early lead, and the potential it has to disrupt the plans opposing teams have at the start.

“Yeah, I truly believe it,” Martinez said.

“I said this all year, we want to come out and score first every game. When we do that we put a lot of pressure on the other team. So our focus is always to try to get ahead early in the game and stay ahead.”

Having already lost one at home in Chavez Ravine, an early deficit in Game 3 would only add pressure on the Dodgers, who finished the regular season with 106 wins and, rightly, high expectations for what they could do in October.

Martinez, as usual, however, said his focus was solely on his own team.

“For me it’s you know, one, I don’t focus on any other team but the Nationals. I focus on our team and what we can do. I get it, they’re really good and we know that, but we got to play good baseball. But we try to focus on what we can do and how we can beat other teams.”

After getting shut out 6-0 in a lackluster performance in Game 1 of the series last Thursday, the Nationals got up early on Friday night in LA and held on for a 4-2 win that evened things up in the best-of-five battle, and back in the nation’s capital last night, Juan Soto made it 2-0 in the first with a two-run shot off Dodgers’ lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu.

The Nationals led 2-1 after five strong from Aníbal Sánchez, but Patrick Corbin and the Nats’ bullpen combined to seven runs in the top of the sixth, 8-2, and in spite an attempted rally in the bottom of the inning, which was short-circuited by a baseruning gaffe by Howie Kendrick, the home team came up short last night in the nation’s capital, leaving them on the brink of elimination.

After getting shut out in Game 1, and winning 4-2 in a tightly-contested Game 2, the Nats got an early lead last night, but it wasn’t enough.

At the worst possible moment, a lineup that’s shown the ability to pile up runs has stalled, and Martinez’s bullpen plan — using starters to bridge the gap to the back end — worked well until it didn’t in Game 3. What do the Nationals need to do to spark the offense?

“We just got to get the ball in the strike zone. And we got to stay in the middle of the field. There’s a lot of hits in the middle of the field. We just got to get back to that and take our walks and just get back to the middle of the field.”

Will they be able to keep the season alive tonight? Will they stay in the fight or something?

“We’re going to fight and those guys know what we’re playing for and we want to go to L.A.,” Martinez said.