Avoiding a sweep by salvaging a series finale and winning your third game in the last ten is no reason for celebration, but at least Washington’s Nationals got to take a happy flight out to Arizona coming off a win instead of yet another loss. Sticking to the positives though, it was a win in which the Nats scored four runs early and cruised to a relatively drama free 5-1 victory.
“It was great,” manager Davey Martinez said on Thursday afternoon, before boarding a flight to Phoenix for the first game of this weekend’s three-game set, which starts at 9:40 PM ET.
“We talk about it all the time,” Martinez continued, “we get that lead early, we’re pretty good when that happens.
“Our big boys came up, they swung the bats, hit a couple home runs, they tacked on another run late, it was a good day for us.”
The big boys, of course, are Kyle Schwarber and Josh Bell, both of whom hit two-run home runs in the bottom of the first of the series finale with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Martinez has been preaching about the need for early runs over the past few weeks, as the team has struggled to get out to leads, but at least for one day they did it, and though just one more run scored after the first, it was enough.
“It’s only one game, but hopefully we do it tomorrow,” he added. “I mean that’s the gist of it. Put the pressure on the other team when you come out and score first like that.
“Like I said, it was a good day for the Nats, let’s go enjoy our flight and come back and do it again tomorrow.”
“It’s definitely nice to go out there and put some early runs up, have that three-run lead,” Schwarber said after hitting the first of the two big home runs on Thursday.
“And I think it gives the pitcher a little bit more room to work with mentally there. It doesn’t feel like he needs to be perfect the whole time. He can just go out there, attack the zone and get guys out. That’s what we want to do as an offensive unit, is just go out there score early and play great defense behind our guy and let him go as deep as possible.”
“I think it’s huge for the starters, it’s huge for the bullpen,” Bell said. “You can really, really — I feel like as a pitcher you can not worry about being too precise. You can try to make your pitches and know that you’ve got that run-support behind you, so we gave [Patrick] Corbin that run-support and he was able to take it and run with it and our bullpen came in and shut the thing out for us. Definitely fun to watch.
“We score early and it was pretty much game over from that point on.”
Will the Nationals be able to jump out to another early lead and earn another win tonight in the series opener with the Diamondbacks?