Coming off a four-game sweep in Citi Field, with losses in five straight, and seven of the last 10, the Washington Nationals look to bounce back against a Miami Marlins team that comes to D.C. on a six-game winning streak that has them within a 1.5 games of fourth place in the NL East, a position in the standings currently held by the Nationals.
So, yes, Davey Martinez’s crew could end up in the basement of the division in the next few days... if they can’t beat the Fish, against whom they’re 1-2 so far in 2019.
Martinez talked after the loss in yesterday’s series finale with the New York Mets in Citi Field about the frustrating start to that game (before the frustrating finish), which saw the Nats go 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and seven left on base through five innings before Brian Dozier singled with Juan Soto on second in the top of the sixth for the first of four runs the Nationals scored on the day in the 6-4 loss.
“We can go back and say the first four innings we had chances to score runs,” Martinez said, “... we had runners in scoring position and less than two outs in four straight innings and we couldn’t score a run, so in that sense, we’ve just got to move the ball. We talk about this all the time. Cut down the strikeouts, put the ball in play, a ground ball would have gotten us two runs and we’ve just got to get better at that.”
Moving the ball, making contact, better situational hitting, offensive efficiency, these are things that the second-year skipper has preached for the season-plus he’s been in D.C.
So what has to change?
Are hitters pressing as the losses pile up and the possibility of any postseason baseball in the nation’s capital this October becomes less and less likely?
“I really think everybody — right now we’re trying to win games, and hey, just slow the game down,” Martinez said. “I tell them all the time, ‘Slow the game down,’ don’t chase the game, let the game come to you and we’re going to be fine, but you can’t create things just by playing erratic baseball. Just be smart, be smart, play smart baseball, and things will happen. I hit for 17 years in this league, it ain’t easy, I get it, I understand that, but there’s times where, just like I said, just a simple ground ball can do the job. So, we’ve got to knock in those runs early, especially early in the game. We’ve got to score, because the team that scores first puts pressure on the other teams right away.”
[ed. note - “According to his baseball card (or baseball-reference.com, really) he only played 16 seasons in the majors, but we’ll just go with it, he was speaking extemporaneously. Also, he did have a .276/.341/.389 career line, so we’re not dismissing his insights as to what it takes to hit in the big leagues.”]
Will the Nationals get things back on track in the four-game, holiday weekend series with the Marlins?