Davey Martinez’s club got off to a disappointing start to their seven-game road trip to both Baltimore and Philadelphia, dropping a 6-1 decision to the Orioles in which they went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and seven left on base.
“I thought we chased a little bit, I really did,” Martinez told reporters after the Nationals fell to 45-51 overall on the season and 7.0 games back in the NL East.
“I mean, [Orioles’ starter Jorge] López had a high pitch count early in the game, and we were chasing. I looked up at one point and I think he had I think 27 strikes and 27 balls or something like that, so we just had to get him in the strike zone a little bit.
“But you know, we we want to be aggressive with guys on base, but we want to be aggressive in the strike zone.”
That’s something we haven’t heard from the fourth-year skipper in some time, after he said it often as the club struggled to score runs earlier this season. So was it a step back for the team? Or just one of those days?
“It’s one of those days,” Martinez said. “I’m just going to, like I always do, go back and look at some of the at bats, watch some of the plays, and then we’ll talk about it tomorrow, but these guys have been good, they really have. Last couple of games have not, but they’ve been pretty good overall on swinging at strikes, hitting the ball hard somewhere, using the whole field, that’s what we’re really good at, so we need to get back to that tomorrow.”
If the Nationals are going to make a run, they need to start stringing together wins and make up some ground in the division.
“Just got to come back tomorrow and win tomorrow and then try to win the series,” Martinez said.
“We said all along if we can come out and starting winning the series we’ll get back in this thing.”
Are the players feeling pressure to prove to the team’s brass that they’re still in the race with the trade deadline approaching?
“Yeah, I mean, I don’t think we feel it for that reason,” Ryan Zimmerman said of the approach of the deadline. “We feel it because it’s a critical stretch for us to win games.”
And after all, the trade talk and roster decisions are out of the players’ hands.
“That stuff ... is done by the front office and people that make those decisions,” Zimmerman told reporters after he went 0 for 3 with a walk and three Ks in the loss. “None of those decisions are made by us in the room, and I think it helps that we’re a veteran team as well. I think maybe some young teams think about that kind of stuff, but we honestly just go out and play and try to win each day, and that’s all we can do, we can only control kind of the things that we can control.”
A win over the Orioles tonight would be a good start.
HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR THE 2ND OF 3 WITHE ORIOLES:
Be a goldfish.#NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/P2L9civcyL— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 24, 2021
NOTES: We wrote all of the above before there was big news this afternoon: Max Scherzer was supposed to start tonight, but he was scratched with “mild discomfort in his right tricep” as the club noted on Twitter within the last hour. Davey Martinez and Scherzer both said they think he’ll be okay to make his next scheduled start, after he tweaked something swinging in batting practice. Also, Jordy Mercer landed on the IL this afternoon with a left calf strain, so Carter Kieboom was called up from Triple-A. More on the moves later, with quotes from Martinez’s pregame Zoom call. The hits keep coming for the 2021 Nationals... Here’s what Davey said about Scherzer telling him he had a tricep issue:
“He came to my office and said his tricep was bothering him,” Martinez explained. “He had some mild discomfort in his tricep. We talked it through.
“As you know Max, he wanted to try the best he can to make his start today, and yesterday we talked a little bit more and I decided, hey, maybe it’s best that we don’t push this thing.
“We sent him to get an MRI, his MRI came back extremely clean. As of right now he’s just got mild discomfort in his right tricep, and he’s assuming and expecting to make his next start and so am I.”