It took the Washington Nationals 17 innings in this series before they finally scored a run on one of the Atlanta Braves’ starters, and it was just one, but it snapped a stretch of dominant pitching by the Braves’ rotation.
As they did in the previous two in SunTrust Park in the series, the Nats made it close with a few runs against the home team’s bullpen, but they lost their third straight to their NL East rivals and fourth straight overall in the end last night, 5-4.
What was Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez’s message for his club after the fifth loss in the last six games?
“Stay with it,” the manager told reporters. “Stay in the fight. Keep fighting. We scratched and clawed, we had some good at bats today, we hit the ball hard, we just keep fighting. We’re right there, we’re playing good baseball, just stay in it.”
Juan Soto hit a two-run double late to get the Nationals within one in the eighth, and Martinez said that it could be a spark the team needs to start to turn things around, but more important than the late runs? Scoring first.
“I say this a lot,” Martinez said, “... when you come out and score first — we haven’t done that in these few games — so we have to come out and score early, I think that puts the pressure on the other team, and we just haven’t done that, so let’s come out tomorrow and just keep playing good baseball and try to get that run or two early.”
Max Fried tossed seven scoreless, giving up just one hit on Thursday, Dallas Keuchel held the Nats scoreless over six innings on Friday, and last night Julio Teheran took his shutout bid into the fifth before Asdrúbal Cabrera hit a solo shot off the right-hander.
What have the Braves’ starters done to keep the Nationals down?
“They’re keeping us off-balance, for sure,” Martinez explained, “but like I said, we had some opportunities, we’re hitting the ball hard, but just not getting that one hit that we need, that one break-open hit early, so let’s just, like I said, come back tomorrow and try to knock the doors down early, and get something going early.”