With losses in 9 of 11 games in July, and four straight going into the All-Star break, the 2021 Washington Nationals went from 40-38 after a 19-9 June, which left them 2.0 games out in second place in the NL East on June 30th, to 42-47, 6.0 games out, in fourth in a division in which only the 47-40 first-place New York Mets went into the break above .500.
Though the results weren’t there on the first-half ending 2-5 road trip to San Diego and San Francisco, with the club beat up and players seemingly landing on the IL on a daily basis, it wasn’t from a lack of effort.
“We’ve been battling day in and day out,” manager Davey Martinez said before the first of three with the Padres last week in Petco Park. “But they understand that when we come back we’ve got to come back and start off strong as well, so we talk a lot about these guys, even though they have a break, but do some kind of stretching, some form of exercise, maybe for a day or two, and really keep themselves going so that when we get back there’s no hesitation, we jump right back in this thing.
“We play a tough team right when we come back, we play San Diego again, so we’ve got to be ready.”
Though they’ve had a ton of injuries, Ryan Zimmerman, who’s seen a lot in his 16 years in the nation’s capital, said it’s something that happens and you have to overcome if you’re going to make a run at the postseason.
“It happens to everybody, every team goes through it at some point. You know, it’s kind of when that stuff happens you have to have guys that can come up and help you win, and other guys have to step up and maybe start playing more,” Zimmerman said going into the break.
“That’s part of it, everyone who’s played this game long enough deals with it. So, hopefully we’ll get some guys healthy, our bullpen is starting to come back, it’s good to have [Daniel Hudson] and [Kyle Finnegan] back, and we’ll enjoy these days off and come back ready to go.”
Though things wrapped up in disappointing fashion in the first half, Martinez, as always, had a positive mindset after the finale with the Giants last Sunday.
“We still got a lot of season left,” he said of looking towards the second-half. “And I’m excited about that, and like I said, we’ll start getting some of our guys back hopefully, But it’s that time, you know, where you get that four days off, and come back, you’re reenergized and we can come back and start playing baseball, and try to creep back in this thing. Not by any means do I feel like — like I said earlier, that we’re out of it. I mean, it took us a while to get going, we got going, it felt good, we got a couple of key injuries, but now we got to keep going, keep playing, keep going 1-0 every day, and go from there.”