After splitting four games in Atlanta’s SunTrust Park last week, Washington’s Nationals were 5-4 against the Braves this season, and they went into last night’s game 5.5 behind their NL East rivals, in second place in the division.
So the 6-3 win in the nation’s capital was a big one, second-year manager Davey Martinez acknowledged, though he said it was still just one game. He did, however, send closer Sean Doolittle out to lock it down with a four-run lead in the ninth.
“I know that the Braves are ahead of us, absolutely,” Martinez said, “... but it’s today, up four, going into the seventh, ‘Hey, we’ve got to win today.’ ‘Let’s win today,’ you know, to me, this day and age with bullpens, four runs isn’t really much, so I joke around all the time, like I never understood why three runs is considered a save. I really don’t. Four runs, you walk a couple guys, next guy gets a base hit, next guy the game is tied, so hopefully one day they’ll change that too, but I’m not here to change rules.”
Martinez’s squad went up by four when Anthony Rendon hit a grand slam in the sixth, and Wander Suero and Fernando Rodney threw scoreless innings in the top of the seventh and eighth, respectively, before the skipper turned to Doolittle with the Nats up four in the bottom of the ninth.
“Doo came in the game, and shut it down for us and it was a big win for us,” Martinez said, though Doolittle did give up a home run, the first he allowed since a May 24th game vs the Miami Marlins, which was a span of 22 games and 21 innings without giving one up.
Having the primary set-up man, Rodney, and his closer available and rested with a late lead was important, Martinez said, after both relievers got the weekend off in the series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“It’s great,” he said. “It’s awesome. Hopefully we’ll come back tomorrow, we’re ahead in the eighth and ninth and they do the same thing.”