“Is tomorrow May 1st?” Davey Martinez asked when a reporter mentioned that the Nationals’ 12-16 record for March/April was close to the 13-16 mark that Washington put up on the way to an 82-80 season in the manager’s first year on the bench in 2018.
“Yeah, I can’t wait till tomorrow,” Martinez said.
“Let’s get out of April, let’s come back tomorrow, May 1st and get it going.”
Last season’s 20-7 month of May left the first-year skipper’s squad with a 33-23 record on the season. Do this year’s Nationals have a run like that in them?
After they dropped the first of four with the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, Martinez talked about the fact that they were falling into a pattern of scoring early and going dormant over long stretches in the middle innings.
“I think the middle innings we’ve just got to add on some more runs there,” he explained.
“We always seem to come back, we score early and then we seem to come back later on, the middle innings we’ve got to keep pounding and try to get that starter out of there early.”
In Game 2 with the Cards, the Nationals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third, fell behind in the fourth, 3-2, and then struggled to get much of anything going in the middle innings, as Cardinals’ starter Adam Wainwright retired 11 of 12 batters between the fourth and seventh innings before a single and hit-by-pitch ended his outing.
With two on and one out, lefty Tyler Webb came on and got an inning-ending 6-3 DP out of Juan Soto with a first-pitch fastball. Was Soto, who hasn’t gotten many fastballs this season over-eager or overly-aggressive trying to make something happen?
“He got a pretty good pitch to hit. He got a fastball middle-in, and typically he hits that ball, he just didn’t there,” Martinez said, “and when he does hit it, the way they shift, usually it’s on the other side of the second base and it’s a hit, but he was up in that situation, I want him up in that situation, as we all know he’s a good hitter, and I’ll take my chances every time when he’s up there with men on first and second.”
The Nationals went down in order in the eighth, and stranded a one-out single in the ninth as the Cardinals made it two straight in the nation’s capital, handing the Nats their eighth loss in the last eleven games.
There were injuries early last season, and the Nationals are playing without Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, and Ryan Zimmerman right now, but they have to find ways to win if they’re going to make a run.
“We’ve got a couple young hitters, and they’re playing well, they really are,” Martinez said.
“Our guys that we typically count on on the bench are starting, and they’re doing well. We get late into games, we pinch hit, we pinch hit a couple times today, we just couldn’t get nothing going down there, but we’ve got to keep battling. We’ve got to keep battling and we’ve got to turn this around.
“Like I said, we can score, I know we can score. We had first and second, and we had the right guy up in Soto, and he hit into a double play. Uncharacteristic, but he did.”
In spite of their struggles, the one silver lining might be that no one in the NL East is really playing all that well so far, with the first-place Phillies just 16-13, the second-place Mets at 15-14, and the Braves 14-15 after the first month-plus of the season, but Martinez said he’s not really concerned with the other teams in the division at this point.
“You know, the funny thing is I don’t even pay attention to those guys, I don’t,” he said.
“I worry about us and what we need to do, so tomorrow we’re going to come back and do it again, you know, and just come back and win a game tomorrow.”