Davey Martinez talked before last night’s loss about how he’d approach the last 15 (now 14) games of the season. The loss in the series opener with the Rays in Tampa Bay left the club with, (by FiveThirtyEight’s projections), a 1% chance of making it to the postseason a year after they won it all.
So do you work more players who are going to be part of the 2021 roster into the lineup? Do you play the veterans? Do you just go with whoever you think is going to help you win since the Nationals will play their divisional rivals the rest of the way and their postseason fates are on the line as well?
“No. 1 is we’re trying to win,” Martinez said on Tuesday afternoon. “We’re trying to go 1-0 today. So when we make out the lineups, we try to put the guys out there that we think are going to be successful for the day and then we’ll make changes throughout the day as the day goes on.
“We got some young guys like Carter [Kieboom], who we’re getting an opportunity to see play. Luis García, who we’re getting an opportunity to see play.
“I’d like to get [Yadiel Hernandez] in there a little bit more to watch him play a little bit more, but the focus is still to win.
“We’ve got some games coming up, a lot of games coming up with the Marlins, Phillies, the Mets, so I’m looking ahead, but we need to win today and then go from there. But I want to win. I always want to win, and these guys understand that.
“And they know, they’re always ready, every day these guys are always ready to play and step in and when they get an opportunity, do the best they can.”
The best they can wasn’t enough last night. The Nationals scored one run on seven hits in a 6-1 loss, and went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and eight left on base.
The Rays went with an opener last night, (as they will again today), with John Curtiss throwing 1 1⁄3 scoreless, before Ryan Yarbrough, who gave up six hits and four runs last week in D.C., got through 5 2⁄3 IP with five hits and one run allowed.
Tampa’s bullpen allowed two hits total in the final two innings of work.
“We chased a little bit, we were out of the zone a little bit today,” Martinez said.
“For some reason, and this is just me speaking, from where I was sitting, it was tough for me to pick up the baseball. I didn’t want to bring that up to the guys, but it was tough today.
“I don’t know if that had anything to do with it, but [Yarbrough’s] changeup was pretty good today, better than it was when we were at home.
“We chased a lot of balls today out of the zone. Hopefully tomorrow we get back in the zone and we start hitting the ball like I know we can.
“Carter (2 for 3, BB) actually did well today, hit the ball really well against him today, and that was encouraging. I loved his at bats today.”
Will the Nationals be able to see the ball better during the day (we know it’s a dome, stop) and earn a split in this afternoon’s finale?