.500 Road Trip:
Davey Martinez and Co. were determined to avoid a sweep and finish their six-game road trip to Kansas City and Los Angeles 3-3 after taking the first two with the Royals and then losing the finale and the first two with the Dodgers.
Going into the series finale in Dodger Stadium, the sixth-year skipper said he liked the way Washington’s hitters were swinging and wanted Nationals’ coaches to preach consistency to their players.
“The biggest thing today,” he said, “... as I talked to the hitting coaches this morning, just, ‘Hey, tell them, ‘Don’t change a thing.’ They’re having good at-bats, we’re hitting the ball hard, we just got to find some holes, you know. So, ‘Keep swinging the bats the way we’re doing,’ and hopefully today some of those balls will fall and we’ll score some runs.
“So I don’t want these guys to start pressing, thinking they got to chase hits, just work good at-bats.”
Then 12 hits, five home runs, and a 10-6 win later, Martinez talked about the club, which was 4 for 14 with runners in scoring position in the third game in Los Angeles, going out and just doing what he hoped to see them do.
“We talked about this earlier today, about how well we’re staying on the ball, we’re hitting the ball hard, today, you know, we’re playing a day game here, and we continue to hit the ball hard,” he said.
“A few home runs, a few balls got out, we were able to get some hits today. The offense, they’ve been hitting the ball well.”
To get those five home runs and a much-needed win meant a lot to the manager, whose team fought the NL West’s 1st-place Dodgers and avoided a sweep in the three-game set.
“Big home runs today, right?” Martinez said. “Big home runs. But all in all, the at-bats have been good. We’ve been hitting the ball hard. So let’s continue to do that.”
“You know what, hey, these guys [the Dodgers] are tough, you know, they really are. They got some of the best hitters in baseball, not just the league, so we come in here and I thought we did [make] some young mistakes, but to come out here after a long road trip and win the last game to go back home now feels pretty good. We finished .500 on the road. Coming out to the West Coast is never easy. So I’m proud of the guys. After getting beat the first two games, to come back the way they did today and pull this one out.”
With a day off yesterday, and the next two Mondays off as well, do the Nationals have any plans to switch things up, or find a way to rest any of their starters as they help young pitchers like MacKenzie Gore, Jake Irvin, and Josiah Gray navigate the full, 162-game MLB season early in their respective careers?
“Right now, we’re keeping everything the same,” Davey Martinez told reporters when he spoke with the press before the series finale with the Dodgers. “We haven’t talked about — we’re going to get through today. I’ll talk to [Pitching coach Jim] Hickey probably on the plane a little bit on the way home, but I like the way the rotation is now.
“They get a couple extra days off. They all seem to be doing well, so we’ll probably keep it the same.”
Patrick Corbin and Trevor Williams are veteran members of the starting rotation, and Gray has experience pitching [most of] a full season in the majors, though the Nationals did do plenty to get him through the year in 2022, so are they going to do the same with Gore or Irvin, neither of whom have played out a full campaign in the big leagues yet?
“They’re both doing well,” Martinez said.
“They’re both on track. We’re looking at a lot of different measurements in their outings.
“Right now, they’re good. But it’s going to come a point in time later on in the season we’ll have to start paying attention to the innings.”
It’s not just the starters, but also relievers, and a number of position players who are being monitored closely as they work their way through the early years of their careers. But their manager likes what he’s seen of their progress as a team through the first two-plus months.
“I think a lot of it is about consistency,” Martinez explained.
“These guys are going out there — we’re building foundations for these guys, and they’re going out there and they are playing consistently,” he said before the third of three in LA.
“The last two games we kind of beat ourselves up a little bit because we haven’t made the plays that we typically make, and we’ve got to get back to just keeping everything simple, making the routine plays, but overall I’m really proud of what we’re doing and how we’re going about doing it. These guys are engaged, they’re getting better, they’re playing the game the right way, and they’re having fun, and that’s the main thing. And they’re going to get better. The big key is to continue to progress every day, and we’ve seen that.”