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Washington Nationals’ lineup for the 2nd of 2 with the New York Mets in D.C.

Davey Martinez’s club took last night’s series opener with the New York Mets and tonight they try to make it four in a row overall...

MLB: Exhibition-Baltimore Orioles at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Howie Kendrick’s 4 for 4 game in last night’s 5-3 win left the 37-year-old, 15-year veteran 6 for 20 (.300/.364/.500) with a double and a home run through six games early in 2020. It came after Kendrick was scratched from last Wednesday’s matchup with the Toronto Blue Jays with upper back stiffness.

He got past that pretty quickly and returned to the lineup, helping spark the Nationals’ offense in the first game of two with the New York Mets in the nation’s capital.

“My back, it was just something that popped up,” Kendrick explained in a Zoom call with reporters after the win. “It wasn’t really — it kind of came out of nowhere.

“I got to the field and I was fine, and then when I went to go hit I felt some tightness and soreness underneath my trap — or in the upper back. We worked on it for a couple days, got it knocked out, and I was back in the lineup today, so it wasn’t anything that we were crazy concerned about, but it was something that we needed to get taken care of.”

As he did last year, Washington’s manager Davey Martinez, said he would have to be careful to manage Kendrick’s playing time to get the most out of him, since he is an important part of the lineup in D.C.

“We just kept an eye on him,” Martinez said, “and conversation between him and I, and the training staff he felt good to go. Sunday he said he felt okay. So this is perfect for him to go out there and do what he did, and show that he’s really okay. We need him in the lineup whenever we can.

“I’ve got to give him days off, I know that, but short season like [this] we’ve got to get him out there as much as possible.”

Kendrick, whose first inning home run started things off for the Nationals, talked afterwards about his approach going up against left-hander Steven Matz, against whom he was only 2 for 13 before adding four hits.

“I think today the game plan was just to kind of work some counts,” he explained, “see some pitches. I think as hitters sometimes we get ahead of ourselves and we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to see some pitches, and right there, he just made a mistake with a [full count] changeup. Most of the time 3-2 counts now you don’t really get those fastballs like you used to. So, you just try to be patient and hopefully it works out for you and tonight it was just one of those nights that it worked out for me.”

Three singles followed for Kendrick, and the Nationals built up a 5-0 lead and held on for a two-run win that was the club’s third straight, and it came after a four-day break because a COVID-19 outbreak on the Miami Marlins’ roster caused the Nationals’ scheduled three-day stay in South Florida to be postponed.

Kendrick is back in the lineup tonight as Washington tries to make it four straight overall in the second of two with the Mets in Nationals Park.

Also: Juan Soto is back in there.