Going into the first game of the Washington Nationals’ crucial 11-game homestand, Davey Martinez told reporters that as important as the stretch they were embarking on was, he wanted his team to take the same approach they have taken in every other game they’ve played.
“I say it every day, ‘Hey, let’s just go 1-0 today,’ you know,” Martinez said, “and focus on today and do everything we can to win today, and go from there. I’ve said this before, but they’ve been playing really well, everybody has, so we’ve just got to continue to keep going. We’ve got a nice long homestand right now, so that’s pretty awesome, so let’s just focus on today.”
With four (three now) against the Arizona Diamondbacks, four with the Philadelphia Phillies, and three against the Atlanta Braves, it is an important stretch for the Nationals, whose loss last night left them 31-37 on the season, 8.5 games back in the NL East, behind New York’s Mets (33-34, 6.0), the Phils, (38-30, 1.5), and the division-leading Braves (40-29).
But with a nice run of 12 wins in 17 games before last night’s series-opening loss, it seemed like an opportune time to make up some ground in the East.
“We’ve learned a lot over the past month about this team and how resilient they are,” the second-year skipper said.
“They really are, and how they feel like they can win every game, so just bringing that and coming home and having a long homestand, it helps, so like I said, today the boys seem like they’ve got a lot of rest, they’re relaxed. We’ll go today and play today and win today.”
Unfortunately for the Nats, D-backs’ right-hander Zack Greinke didn’t give up much at all in the first game of the homestand last night, retiring the first ten batters he faced in a no-hit bid that went into the seventh inning.
“He’s hitting his spots, with everything,” Martinez said after the 5-0 loss.
“His changeup was really good. Threw some curveballs that were really good. Fastball command was really, really good. When he’s like that, and he’s got two points on the board early, you’ve got to battle.”
The manager said he liked the approach and game plan going in, but the Nationals were stymied by one of the best pitchers in the game.
“Very seldom did he throw the ball out over the middle of the plate. If you look, everything was corners, corners, corners. We wanted to be aggressive early, it just didn’t — like I said, when he’s on like that, he’s tough.”
Tonight, the Nationals and starter Max Scherzer will take on D-backs’ left-hander Robbie Ray.
Going into the game, Martinez’s squad, as a team, has a .286/.364/.478 line against left-handed pitchers in 2019, which is good for 2nd/1st/3rd across the line among NL clubs.
Will they even things up with the D-backs?