The first eleven games of the Washington Nationals’ 2019 campaign were against just two opponents, both of them division rivals. Three with the New York Mets opened the season, then a quick two-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies followed in D.C., at which point the Nats went on the road for a three-game series in Flushing, Queens, NY’s Citi Field and three in Citizens Bank Park in the so-called City of Brotherly Love.
Davey Martinez’s squad took six of the eleven games, splitting six with the Mets and taking three of five from the Phillies.
Martinez was asked as the second series with the Phillies wrapped up what he thought of all the games in the division, and against just two opponents so early in the season.
“This has been good,” the second-year manager said. “It’s a fun atmosphere, coming here and playing the games like this and playing against the division rivals, it’s fun, it’s a lot of fun, and I know the boys are up for it, we’re all excited about it, and we’ve got a whole year of this, so let’s keep it going.”
The Nationals played three more with the Phillies in Citizens Bank as part of the last road trip and dropped two of three in that series, leaving them 4-4 against Philly after eight of the 19 games the two teams will play this season.
The Nats and Phils play four more in June, three in July, and then wrap up the season series with four more in late September.
After this week’s three-game series with the Mets in D.C., the Nationals travel to Citi Field for four on May 20-23, then the two teams don’t meet again until August 9-11 when they play a three-game set in Citi before wrapping up the season series with three at home in the first week of September.
So how are Martinez and Co. feeling about all the intra-division matchups early this season now?
“I don’t like it honestly,” Adam Eaton told reporters before the series opener with the Mets.
“I’m not a huge fan of it, but I feel like once we get these out of the way, we won’t see them till like September, but it’s a little different. I think everyone’s schedule is a little different that way.”
“It’s the stretch that we’re in and hopefully we can make it to our advantage,” Eaton added.
“We see the pitching over and over and over again, the [Mets] have a great pitching staff, and hopefully as hitters you can make it to your advantage to see these guys over and over and like I said, hopefully have an advantage going in there.
“We have to see it as such, and hopefully we come out of here winning the best of the seven.”
Martinez, as he’s said before, reiterated that he doesn’t get too concerned about the other teams he’s playing, and tries to focus on his own club.
“I just worry about — like I said, today. Don’t really matter. It is kind of weird though, that it worked out that way, but yeah, for me it’s just playing. Sometimes — it works two ways, you get a team like that and all of a sudden you come in and they’re on a hot streak and you’ve got to play them that many times, sometimes they’re not, so for me it’s just winning today.”
Or hopefully for the Nationals, winning tomorrow, because they fell behind 4-0 early in the first of three with the Mets in D.C., and ended up losing 6-2.
As Eaton said before the game on Tuesday, regardless of which team they’re playing, they have to start stringing some wins together, and soon.
“We’ve got to play better baseball,” Eaton told reporters. “I know that we had played better baseball in LA, but like I said, we’ve got to put a couple — a string of weeks together where we’ve played better, and hitting, pitching, defense, all facets have got to be better, but like I said, hopefully we’re focused on it starting today.”