Before the Washington Nationals beat the Chicago White Sox to sweep the two-game set in D.C., giving them four straight wins, four straight series wins, and wins in nine of their last 11 games, GM Mike Rizzo talked to 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies about what’s going on with the club during their recent run of success.
“I just like the fact that we’re playing good baseball, solid baseball,” Rizzo said.
“We can only worry about us. We’re gonna take it game by game, blah, blah, blah, inning by inning, and that’s really the only way you can take it. We’ve got a White Sox team that’s rebuilding, up and coming, they’re hungry to play and to win and we need to beat them and then go on the road and play the Padres and White Sox in Chicago and see if we can come through that road trip.”
“We’ve been playing well on the road,” he added, “we had that nice road trip in Atlanta and Cincinnati and we need to just kind of continue the momentum through today’s game and get on the plane and try to play good baseball on the road.”
The Nationals’ 4-1 trip to SunTrust Park and Great American Ball park left them 13-18 on the road this season as they head out for four in San Diego and two on Chicago’s South Side.
Rizzo also went on at length with the Sports Junkies about what wasn’t working for the Nationals in the first two-plus months of the 2019 campaign and what’s different now.
“I think we’re playing better baseball,” he said.
“When you look at the front portion of our season, we had a rash of injuries, we had a group of injuries. Whenever you lose your core group — 2-3-4-5 hitters, your best two bench guys, two or three relievers that you’re counting on, two starters at one time — it just throws everything out of whack.
“Our first part of this season, our first third or so of this season, our schedule was murder.
“We went on that road trip that the Phillies are on right now and the Mets just came back from and it was rough, undermanned and playing a lot of role players and bench players and Triple-A players that we had out.
“I remember a lineup that we had in Milwaukee, we had [Adrián] Sanchez at third, we had [Jake] Noll at first.
”We were running guys out there that the general public didn’t even know about. But we grinded through, we persevered, and got ourselves a little bit healthier.
”The one constant between all this was our rotation. They give us a chance to win each and every day. I think our bullpen is starting to pitch and feel a little bit more comfortable, and pitch a little bit like we expected them to pitch, and our starters have been asked and taxed, asked to go the extra mile. They have, and it’s good to see other portions of the roster pick them up when they have to like last night.”
Tuesday night it was the bullpen that held things together after Stephen Strasburg’s less-than-stellar start against the Sox.
Trea Turner picked the Nationals up in the second of two with the White Sox in D.C., hitting a walk-off home run in the ninth after the bullpen blew a 4-1 lead in the eighth.
Now Turner and the Nationals take on the team that selected the shortstop in the first round of the 2014 Draft and traded him to Washington as part of the three-team deal in 2015.
“We’re playing well,” manager Davey Martinez said after Wednesday’s win. “I just want to go on this plane and enjoy the five-hour ride and get to San Diego and do it again tomorrow.”