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MLB playoffs — Washington Nationals look to ride high against Los Angeles Dodgers – ESPN


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  • Eddie MatzESPN Senior Creator

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      Eddie Matz covers the Washington Nationals and the enviornment of Foremost League Baseball for ESPN.com. He is been writing for ESPN since 2002, and is a graduate of the College of Pennsylvania.

WASHINGTON — It was an awfully conclude shave.

Not the Washington Nationals’ pleasing, one-shuffle, attain-from-within the encourage of, wild-card regain against Josh Hader and the Milwaukee Brewers. Even if that was conclude too. The shave in demand was the one on Dave Martinez’s face on Tuesday afternoon.

“I screwed up,” acknowledged Washington’s supervisor, explaining why his trademark 5 o’clock shadow appeared additional bask in noon. “The guard on my clipper was off on one aspect, and I unbiased went, oh no. I had to lower it slightly.”

In various phrases, it wasn’t some playoff superstition that Martinez had adopted all through his decade as bench coach under Joe Maddon at Tampa Bay and Chicago. It wasn’t a wild-card whim that the Nats’ skipper wakened keen about. It was an accident, straight ahead and straight ahead. Nonetheless Martinez, who with no sign of ending preaches about staying in the appropriate right here and now, about going 1-Zero on the current time, was ready to roll with it. Even probably help on to it, counting on the consequence of the Nationwide League wild-card sport that was about to care for quandary.

“Let’s stare what occurs on the present time,” he acknowledged with a chortle.

What happened was this: Ace Max Scherzer, starting with out reference to a rocky enact to an rupture-marred season, walked the leadoff hitter and gave up two house runs to the crucial six batters because the Nats went down 3-0. Stephen Strasburg, coming out of the bullpen for the crucial time since his freshman 365 days in school, was dominant in three innings of discount. The Nationals, down 3-1 heading into the eighth inning and going by All-Star reliever Hader, grinded out three runs thanks to a mountainous bases-loaded knock from 20-365 days-aged Juan Soto (with an abet from rookie Brewers outfielder Trent Grisham, who charged in too laborious on Soto’s single and allowed Anthony Rendon to ranking the poke-forward shuffle from first). Oh, and Washington nearer Daniel Hudson pitched a scoreless ninth to discontinue Milwaukee’s season and, a minimal of for one night, make all folks in D.C. fail to keep in mind about unbiased how inappropriate the Nats’ bullpen was this season.

Nonetheless probably most significantly, what happened was that, now not like what transpired along with his razor earlier within the day, Martinez did now not screw up. Reasonably the choice.

On an unseasonably heat October night, Martinez pushed your complete applicable buttons. He lifted Scherzer after 5 innings and simplest 77 pitches, altering him with a man who had by no means thrown a single inning of discount in 242 knowledgeable appearances. In that fateful eighth inning, he despatched up pinch hitter Michael Taylor to face Hader. Though Taylor had spent reasonably a pair of the season at Double-A after being demoted, and even when he had feeble Ryan Zimmerman readily available on the bench, Martinez cherished that Taylor had reached despicable twice in two occupation journeys against Hader. Two batters after Taylor reached for a 3rd time (on successful by pitch), Martinez historical Zimmerman, who blooped a two-out single to center that stored the inning alive and helped function the stage for Soto’s big hit.

Which helped function the stage for Washington’s 2nd goggle-sporting, liquid-spraying celebration in decrease than per week. It’s the crucial time the Nationals have ever popped bottles after advancing within the postseason.

“You can’t unquestionably behold on the previous; it’s doubtless you’ll perhaps also’t unquestionably behold on the future,” acknowledged Strasburg, when requested to consider the sensation now to that of two years in the past, when he was dominant in two begins against the Cubs all through a division assortment that Washington misplaced, its fourth playoff assortment defeat in 4 tries. “The item about the playoffs, in particular the scenario we’re in, it’s doubtless you’ll perhaps also’t unquestionably predict what is going on to happen. You can’t behold true into a crystal ball. You unbiased gotta revel in the moment and be contemporary.”

In various phrases, let’s stare what happens on the current time.

It reasonably crucial has been Martinez’s motto all 365 days. When the Nats suffered a 4-sport sweep to the Latest York Mets and have been 12 video games under .500, and Martinez was this conclude to being canned (everytime you instruct your entire lot that sports activities focus on callers present you), he did now not alternate his tune. After they rebounded to poke 57-24 over their subsequent 81 video games and care for a commanding wild-card lead heading into September, he did now not alternate his tune. When his workforce went relax the stretch and practically coughed up acknowledged wild-card lead, he did now not alternate his tune.

Let’s stare what happens on the current time.

Thanks to what happened Tuesday, when Washington acquired its ninth sport in a row, Martinez and the Nationals now have a date with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday … and Friday and Sunday. And probably Monday and Wednesday after that, counting on how exactly the division assortment unfolds.

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Nationals have an excellent time their NL wild-card comeback regain within the locker room with some champagne and beer.

“It might doubtless be complex,” Nationals shortstop Trea Turner acknowledged of the daunting job that lies forward, whereby Washington will face an L.A. juggernaut that acquired a franchise-sage 106 video games this season to counterpoint its modern of shuffle of seven straight division titles. “Nonetheless I believe if there is a workforce that is ever been prepared to face some adversity, or no longer it’s this one appropriate right here.”

As Turner sat on the podium and delivered his postgame feedback, he wore a helmet. It wasn’t a batter’s helmet. Or a catcher’s helmet. In its place, it appeared as if it would be a soccer goalie’s helmet. Manufactured from white leather-based with pink writing, it bore the label of Turner’s alma mater (NC Suppose), and it had been sitting in his locker for months.

“I did no longer inform this or receive this within the final week,” acknowledged Turner, his narrate nasal from the goggles that have been simple strapped over his helmet and pinching his nostril. “It’s been there for a while.”

The reality is, primarily based totally completely on Turner, the lid had been in his cubby for roughly 4 months. Ever given that Nationals have been teetering on the extent of extinction. On Tuesday, after his workforce received proper right here encourage from the brink against Hader and the Brewers, he at closing determined to strap the merchandise on. On fable of why now not?

“I did no longer belief something else,” Turner acknowledged. “It unbiased came about.”

For all we all know, probably Turner was fibbing. Maybe it was the bubbly speaking and the actual fact is that the helmet was a premeditated prop, procured expressly for the capabilities of poppin’ bottles. For that subject, probably Martinez was fibbing too. Maybe his conclude shave wasn’t an accident in the slightest degree, however reasonably a contrived coif supposed to shake issues up and abet the Nats exorcise their postseason demons.

For what or now not it is worth, these demons have not been absolutely exorcised however. On fable of 1 wild-card regain does not erase the sting of four NLDS losses. On the other hand or now not it is a start.

“We vowed that we would also no longer quit,” acknowledged Martinez, seemingly summing up his workforce’s Tuesday and its season in a single fell swoop. “I told the boys, I promise you, follow it, receive no longer quit, this might perhaps doubtless also flip round. And it did. And right here we are on the present time.”

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