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Washington Nationals’ lineup for 2nd of 2 with the Tampa Bay Rays

Davey Martinez and the Nationals try to make it two in a row over the Rays in tonight’s 6:05 PM matchup.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

For a while on Monday, Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez thought he might have both Juan Soto (elbow soreness) and Luis García (heel bruise) in his lineup for their series opener with the Tampa Bay Rays, and García was actually penciled into the lineup when it was initially released, but he ended up having to go ahead without them.

How did he shake things up at the last minute with the available players? He put Michael A. Taylor in left, batting eighth, Josh Harrison at second, batting sixth, Brock Holt was the DH, batting third (coming off an 8 for 22 road trip), and Kurt Suzuki was behind the plate and in the cleanup spot.

“For me, let’s put it this way, I drank an extra cup of coffee and I kind of regrouped and tried to figure things out,” Martinez explained. “When you have veteran guys like the Brock Holts, [Josh] Harrisons, [Michael A. Taylor], you could put up with a lot and know that you’re going to be okay. Those guys tonight played tremendously. J-Hay made a nice play in the field, got a base hit and RBI. They all contributed. It’s nice to have those veteran guys that can do that, come off the bench and really play anywhere. We talk about this a lot and you saw it tonight. We thought we had two of our guys [Soto and García] in there, but obviously they couldn’t play. These guys stepped up tonight and did really well.”

Holt, Suzuki, and Harrison in the middle of the lineup combined to go 6 for 11 with two RBIs, and three runs scored between them. Martinez said he put them in the middle because he felt more comfortable putting the pressure to produce on veterans.

“Yeah, 100%. I want a guy that I know that’s going to move the baseball in certain situations,” he said.

“I like Brock there, Suzuki is always moving the baseball, so put those guys in the middle and see what happens after that.”

Getting the production he did out of Holt (2 for 4, 2B, R) and Suzuki (3 for 4, 2B, R, RBI) in particular helped his makeshift lineup.

“Big games for both of them, but everybody contributed today so it was kind of nice to see,” Martinez said after his club combined for six runs on 10 hits and went 4 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

“Like I tell them every day, just put the ball in play, move the baseball, think about using the whole field with guys on base. We came through with some big hits with guys on base, so that was nice to see.”

As for Soto (who hasn’t played since the finale in Philadelphia) and García, (who left early in the finale in Atlanta with a bruised heel), Martinez said they’re both day-to-day for now.

“Soto hit today, said he felt okay, we’ll see how he comes in tomorrow. Hopefully he’s not sore, but we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.

“We really thought — García took ground balls, he felt good, he put his spikes on to play, and right where the spike is it kills him. So, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow, I know he’s getting treatment right now, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow, hopefully we can figure something out and he’s back out there, but we’ll see.”

The good news is the players he did have available managed to beat the Rays, who went in with (and still have) the second-best record in baseball.

For the Nationals, who are on the outside looking in as far as the postseason race, every win is crucial right now.

“Every win now is important in this short season. But it was nice to win the first one against Tampa,” Martinez said.

“They’re a good team. We knew that coming in. We had Max [Scherzer] going on the mound, so let’s come back tomorrow, go 1-0 tomorrow, and like I said, just move the baseball. Play good baseball and see what happens.”

Soto is back in the lineup tonight, DHing. Still no García, so Harrison is back at second for the second of two with the Rays.