Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez wasn’t making any excuses when a reporter asked the second-year manager if he cut himself and his team some slack with the sort of makeshift lineup he fielded on Sunday in Philadelphia. Martinez’s options are limited after Matt Adams and Juan Soto went on the Injured List over the last week, joining the likes of Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, and Ryan Zimmerman on the IL, but he wasn’t using that as an excuse following the 7-1 loss in the series finale in Citizens Bank Park, so no, he wasn’t cutting himself any slack.
“No slack,” Martinez said. “We were in the ballgame. After the first inning, [Aníbal Sánchez] pitched really, really well, kept us in the game, but he had to come out because he had 108 pitches, then [Matt] Grace comes in, gets a good strikeout, and I felt really good with him.”
Sánchez was betrayed by his defense early, but limited the Phillies to two runs in 4 2⁄3 IP, and Grace came on to get the final out of the fifth before struggling in the sixth when a string of back-to-back hits, a bunt, walk, RBI groundout, RBI single, and two-run double followed in a five-run inning that blew things open.
“The one bunt, we couldn’t get an out, we get an out there we’re pretty much out of the inning, but we couldn’t get an out right there either,” Martinez added.
Sunday’s lineup featured Victor Robles leading off, Andrew Stevenson in left, Jake Noll at first base, Carter Kieboom at short, and Wilmer Difo at third, a far cry from the lineup the Nationals fielded on Opening Day.
So how did the manager go about putting together the starting nine?
“Just trying to get guys that I thought — spread guys out, left/right. Difo being a switch hitter, he got on base twice today in the two-hole, he had good numbers against [Phillies’ starter Zach] Eflin, so trying to keep — like I said, the lefties/righties balanced, just having a kind of balanced lineup.”
Was it tougher than usual to write out the lineup card?
“For me,” Martinez said, “you have a bunch of young guys, and you’re trying to really play matchups and who’s going to hit, who can get on base, who can get on base for the next guy and stuff of that nature.”
How did he line the players up for tonight’s series opener in Milwaukee?