Washington Nationals refuse to die quietly under Davey Martinez
By Blake Finney
The Washington Nationals swept the series with the Philadelphia Phillies and they refuse to go down without a fight in any game, and in this season.
They didn’t quite need the late night heroics of Tuesday night, but the Washington Nationals won again on Wednesday. They put a four-spot on the host’s ace Aaron Nola that steered them to a 5-1 victory.
The Nats managed to get to Nola early on, with three runs in the first inning, two of which on a Bryce Harper homer. This game is just the latest in a long line of occasions recently where Davey Martinez has not let his team coast out the rest of the season.
Tuesday’s nightcap needed a three-run ninth, and go-ahead homer in the tenth, but today required just as much focus. Facing an NL Cy Young contender, the hitters needed laser focus, and Martinez sent his team out fully prepared.
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Many would argue that it comes too little too late, with playoff hopes in 2018 practically over for the Nationals. And while that argument holds true, it also shows how much the players really do want to play for Martinez, rather than throw in the towel given the circumstances for a disliked manager.
Under Matt Williams, a manager who wasn’t the most popular, the team went 14-14 in September. So far in 2018, they’ve gone 7-4 and are looking a lot like the team they should’ve been. Although Mike Rizzo has declared public support for Martinez anyway, this run may confirm his job for next season.
Strasburg loves pitching in September
Entering Wednesday night’s start, Stephen Strasburg had something of a reputation for knuckling down in September. He had a 13-3 record with a stellar 1.82 ERA in regular season starts in September and October, and continued that theme in this game.
He went seven strong innings, allowing just one run on five hits while striking out nine. That raised his career September/October stats to 14-3 with a 1.80 ERA and a WHIP of 0.856.
His velocity appeared to be down all night from the usual, as he seemed to max out at around 95 mph. But the key thing is that he’s pitching like the Strasburg of old again, and hopefully, will set the tone for the start of 2019.
Soto still demolishing baseballs
After a big doubleheader yesterday, Juan Soto made his mark yet again on Wednesday night. He hit an absolute moonshot in the sixth inning for his 19th home run of the season.
With the bomb, he tied Mel Ott for third-most homers hit by a teenager in major league history. His 61st RBI on the blast also managed to tie Ken Griffey Jr. for seventh-most RBI by a teenager in a single season.
The National League Rookie of the Year race continues to be one of the most fascinating awards to keep an eye on down the stretch. While it’s pretty nip-and-tuck stats wise, all these teenage records that keep falling may well swing the vote.
Davey Martinez will attempt to rally his troops again as they now head home for a one-off game against the Chicago Cubs. This is the Sunday game from this past weekend that was postponed, and the Washington Nationals will hope to make it six wins in a row on this recent stretch.