NATIONALS BEAT BREWERS

NL WILDCARD GAME: BREWERS VS NATIONALS

October 1, 2019

Dave Martinez

Washington, D.C. – postgame

Nationals – 4, Brewers, 3

Q. Can you go through what was the pregame plan for pitching? Did you think about hitting for Scherzer in the third there, and what did you think you could get out of Strasburg?
DAVE MARTINEZ: We thought about it, but the thing is to try to get Stras through the later innings, as well. Scherzer settled down after the first two innings. He was dynamite. We rode him as long as we could. We knew we had to pinch-hit for him.

What can you say about Stras? He comes in out of the bullpen and shuts them down, gives us a chance to get back in the game. You guys seen the rest. The eighth inning we scored some runs, Huddy comes in and closes the 9th.

Q. The at-bats continually come of pass the baton, and Juan comes up with a big hit. What would you expect out of a 20-year-old?
DAVE MARTINEZ: What about that? He’s done it all year for us. That’s why he’s a cleanup hitter. He makes good at-bats, and he comes through when we need him to come through. He’s been unbelievable all year for us.

Q. What did you think of the quality at-bats throughout the game at that point, and was that effective pitching by them or did you feel like the moment got too big for them?
DAVE MARTINEZ: You don’t know. Look, Pomeranz was really, really good. He was. We hit some balls hard. I thought Suzuki’s ball had a chance to get out. And Trea just missed a couple of balls.

And as I said all year, these guys never hit. And their bats got better. We put the ball in play. I was trying to save Zimm to hit it with somebody on base. I knew Taylor had a good at-bat against Hader once. It was the perfect opportunity. If he gets on somehow, we’ve got Trea, and I can pinch-hit for Eaton with Zimm, and that’s the way it worked out.

Q. This is like a lot of your wins this year. Your starter doesn’t get a lot of support early. It’s getting late in the game and then all of a sudden things happen. Can you talk about how this season has gone with so many wins like that?
DAVE MARTINEZ: It’s been going like that all year. But like I said, you know, they played to the last out, you know? Every day, they don’t quit until the 27th out is recorded. And honestly, for me, you kind of got used to it. We’re sitting there and nobody ever thought we were ever done until the last out, really. The dugout was fired up. The guys were fired up. Michael gets hit and simultaneously everyone screamed let’s go, and that’s all it took.

Q. So can you figure out that Corbin will start Game 1, are they there yet?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I will tell you Patrick Corbin will start Game 1.

Q. You mentioned Taylor hit by a pitch. Obviously there was a tense couple of minutes reviewing it. What have you seen since that convinced you that —
DAVE MARTINEZ: He had his glove on the batting glove. It hit his hand and hit the bat, but it hit first.

Q. I know you weren’t here for a lot of those, what can you say for the guys that have been here through those, and how can you use that to move forward?
DAVE MARTINEZ: This was a big win for the guys in the clubhouse, celebrating right now, for this organization. We get to move on and go to LA. But it’s a testament to those guys in that clubhouse. They played hard all year long. We started off horrible, as we all know, and we vowed that we wouldn’t quit. I told the boys, I promise you, stay with it, don’t quit, this will turn around, and it did. And here we are today.

Q. You guys had gotten Hader before here in the summer. When he comes in, does that ever come into anyone’s mind, we’ve gotten to this guy before, and maybe a little bit extra confidence?
DAVE MARTINEZ: The biggest thing is we told the guys to be aggressive, but in the strike zone. Make him throw strikes. Obviously, that’s key for anything, but when he’s throwing 97, 98, you’ve got to get them in the strike zone. I thought we did a pretty good job of that today.

October 1, 2019

Craig Counsell

Chicago, Illinois – postgame

Nationals – 4, Brewers – 3

Q. That game turns on a hit by pitch. How did you see it? What explanation did you get? And how hard is it for a game to turn on something that you probably I assume disagree with?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Yeah, I mean you don’t get an explanation, that’s part of replay. Yeah, I mean, I have — honestly I saw it once quickly on the scoreboard. I wasn’t paying attention to it. They’re going to make a call and that’s what the call is going to be. I’d have to look at it a couple more times to tell you what exactly I think happened.

Most of our dugout was saying it’s really close, but I thought it hit the bat first, and then hit his hand which probably is a foul ball. I thought that should have been the call. That’s kind of what we thought in the dugout that the call was going to be.

Q. What do you say, if anything, to Trent? Obviously a 22-year-old is going to feel like that’s on him, when there’s a number of things that could have gone wrong.
CRAIG COUNSELL: Yeah, look, I think that’s about playing in these games. That’s part of playing in these games. And it’s disappointing, and I’m sure Trent is disappointed. But for all these guys, Trent’s why we’re here. Trent got us here, big part of getting us here. The inning was an ugly inning. Crazy things happen, as do happen. And they got a big hit, and unfortunately the ball — Trent was being aggressive and trying to get a throw off, and looked like the ball probably kicked back a little bit on him, because it had some spin on it.

Q. Craig, I’m guessing before all that happened you had it set up exactly as you wanted it. You got the two out with Pomeranz, and two out with Josh. Every team wants more runs, but you must have felt good about that?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Yeah, I think the game — it started with Woody, and Woody did an incredible job getting us four innings. It was special. It really was. He was outstanding. Suter got through the inning. It was a struggle. We probably planned on more innings from him, but I just thought that with who was coming up that inning that it was a great inning for Drew to start it. He threw the ball well, and we’re six outs away. If you could have told me we’d hand the ball with six outs to go with Josh, that would have fit our script really, really well. It just didn’t play.

Q. With how well Drew was pitching, was there a thought of bringing him in the 8th, and how quick of work he does in those two innings?
CRAIG COUNSELL: No. I had Josh out there. Drew had done his job. That’s exactly — that’s what I wanted from Drew, get us to the 8th. Drew throws two, Josh throws two. That’s — that was perfect, really. That’s how — we couldn’t have drawn it up any better. It went the way we wanted. I wasn’t going to go past that with Drew.

Q. If you’ve addressed this I apologize, but the fact that you lose Yelich down the stretch and the injuries you had to fight through all year long, what’s your sense now after this is over and your team in general? I’m sure you’re proud of them?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Very proud. These baseball seasons are sacred. You think that you don’t get many of them, and you don’t get many chances like this. And I’m so proud of the way we battled and the urgency that we played with and how together we became, better than anybody thought we could be.

It was a wonderful effort. Things didn’t go our way tonight, but I’m incredibly proud of what they accomplished. It’s an incredible group. They accomplished a lot. They should be proud. This is a difficult night. No reason to hang your heads with the season we have, absolutely none for us. I’m really proud of what we did.

Q. That’s kind of what I was going to ask, that sounds like that was your message to them?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Yeah.

Q. How long do you think it will take them to feel that that’s what they did and get over this disappointment?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Well, this is a game you think about for a while, of course, right? You’re going to think about this game because these opportunities are hard to come by. It’s hard to put yourself in the playoffs and get yourself close to winning a Wild Card game.

So it’s going to sting, as it should, as we expect. But I still get left with just how we accomplished what we did. And I think we should be proud of that. And we did it together. That’s how we did it.

October 1, 2019

Juan Soto

Trea Turner

Nationals – 4, Brewers – 3

Q. Juan, could you take me through the at-bat and the single and what you were looking for in the situation that you were in there?
JUAN SOTO: To me, I just step in there. I know he’s in trouble. He going to try to attack me with his fastball up and the slider. I mean, I just step in there and try to hit the ball and single to the middle. That’s what all I think in that bat, hit a ground ball single to the middle and try to tie the game.

Q. Continuing with that, Juan, when you saw him lose the ball in right field, what was your reaction as you ran to second?
JUAN SOTO: I just see the — I want to make sure they throw the ball to the third baseman, and make the rundown over there, and try to make a score.

Q. Trea, the way you guys offensively played that game, seven innings struggling against them, and then the best closure in baseball.
TREA TURNER: You’ve got to give credit to those guys, Pomeranz, Suter and Woodruff were really good. They’re not fun at-bats. Chasing a hundred, and fastball is moving, throwing up in the zone. I think just did a good job pitching-wise. And for me, I think for Max Scherz, for us to keep it close and give us a chance was the key. And they did that, and we continued to fight offensively and put it together.

Q. Trea, if someone who hasn’t been paying attention asked you what’s going on with your team right now, how would you explain what’s going on the past week or so around here?
TREA TURNER: I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I think we won nine games in a row. I think we’re playing good baseball, this time of the year playing against really good teams. We played Philly, who was — and then we played Cleveland.

So we’ve had to play two tough series before this game. And Milwaukee has been hot the past month or so. No easy games. And I think hats off for us to for continuing to fight because we know if we could keep it close we could have a chance at the end. And we’re here now.

Q. Juan, you guys almost got to Hader when they were here in August, and he kind of got out of it. What was the mentality against Hader this time and made the difference to stay in and turn things in your favor?
JUAN SOTO: I mean, most of the guys, we know he likes to throw high heaters, and not much sliders. He just throws a lot of heaters. We try to make him throw strikes. We just make sure he throws strikes. And then when they come up, like I say, I know he going to try to attack me.

Q. Trea, looking ahead now, you have a day to go out to LA and start on Thursday. Facing the Dodgers, the challenge that presents?
TREA TURNER: Yeah, a few years ago, I guess different team, but a few years ago I was here and we played them. They’re obviously a good team, great starting pitching, good lineup and deep and whatnot.

So it’s going to be tough. But I think if there’s a team that’s ever been ready to face some adversity, it’s this one right here. And I guess Corbin is pitching for us. I don’t know if I’m supposed to say that. Also, I don’t have background information on that. So that’s just my thought process (laughter).

But to go against a good rotation over there, it’s going to be a battle, and we’re looking forward to it.

Q. What did you guys think of the way Stephen came out of the bullpen for the first time in his career and cruised through three innings like that?
TREA TURNER: For me I just thought he was efficient. I looked up and I’m pretty sure he got the double play in the first inning, and they got some hits, but I felt like he worked himself right out of the situation real quick and was just efficient and in the zone, throwing pitches like he always does.

And early in the week I was pretty excited when he said he wanted to close for us if we went to Corbin and then to him. So I can’t say enough about him. But that was big for us.

Q. The motto of this team has been stay in the fight. Is this the embodiment of that tonight?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For sure. Like I said, Mike’s at-bat, Tony’s at-bat, Zimm’s at-bat. Everything that led up to Juan’s hit, obviously, it was a big hit in a very tough situation, but the whole inning in general I appreciate because I know how tough it is to face that guy out there.

And you can say don’t swing at the high heater, but it’s a simple concept but not easy. To put those three at-bats together before Juan’s, and Juan put the hit out there to tie the game, and the mistake out there was big. But we’re never going to give up and we’re going to continue to do that until the last at-bat is made.

Q. Juan, you mentioned before the game that your mom cooked for you today. Have you talked to her about coming to Los Angeles with you and continuing to cook for you?
JUAN SOTO: She told me she got to work in the Dominican. I really sad for that, but I try to bring her before everything is done.

Q. I notice you have a helmet on, you have goggles on. Obviously you were prepared for this celebration?
TREA TURNER: I wouldn’t say prepared. This has been sitting in my locker for about four months now. So I figured it was a good time to break it out. And here we are now. But I did not order this or receive this within the last week, it’s been there for a while. I didn’t plan anything it just happened.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

AL WILD CARD GAME Oct. 2, 2019

Pre-game interviews:

Bob Melvin

Q. Were there any particularly difficult lineup decisions? How did you decide especially on the catcher spot?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, probably the last two spots were the toughest ones, Grossman or Brown or Phegley or Murphy. Really could have been a flip of the coin. We have confidence in both. Certainly Phegs had a terrific first half. Murph came in and hit the ground running, both offensively and defensively. Worked well with Manaea. So maybe lean just a little bit towards that. Hit some homers. He’s been struggling a little bit as of late. So really kind of a toss-up.

As far as Grossman and Browny, Browny got off to a really hot start, slowed down a little bit. Maybe the experience just a little bit more on Robbie’s end, runs a little better, switch hits, maybe a little better in the field, has played more left field and can do some different things. Balance the experience and youth with those two spots, went with youth at one and experience at the other.

Q. Was there any consideration to play Sheldon Neuse at second base, or did you want to go with Profar?
BOB MELVIN: No, Pro has been swinging the bat really well and he’s got some experience off Morton, too. Morton can be very tough on righties. We tried to get as many lefties as we could in there today. And like I said, what is he, 4 for 11 with the homer off him? So if we have to make some adjustments as the game goes along, we’ll do that, but Pro has been playing pretty good here recently.

Q. It’s been a while since there’s been a playoff game here at the Coliseum, and I’m just wondering if you could mention maybe some of your favorite memories from here having grown up here. And also what is it about this place when it’s packed that makes it different from other ballparks?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, growing up here, The Who and The Dead in 1975, Peter Frampton in 1976. (Laughter).

No, as a kid, probably going to some of the World Series games in the ’70s across the way with the Warriors. I’ve been to this part of the Bay Area quite a bit. It doesn’t necessarily just have to be baseball.

I think we had a couple of walk-offs in the postseason. Coco had one and Steven Vogt had one, and I remember the crowd’s reaction to that. This place gets really loud when it’s well attended, and with Mount Davis open today, it can be a serious home-field advantage for us.

Oakland fans are unique and can make this place a serious home-field advantage for us, so hopefully we can give them something to cheer about early in the game.

Q. Last night you saw the Nationals go with Scherzer and Strasburg. You have Fiers on this roster. Is your sense that you guys win this game and everybody — you can just dump everybody into this game, or is there any, okay, maybe we have to save a little bit for the next series?
BOB MELVIN: No, we’re playing for today’s game. Until you win this one, we’re not even thinking about what’s after this. So we’re just trying to put the best pitchers on our roster that we possibly can more than anything else. Whether or not he’s used in this game, I don’t think we’re looking at it as Manaea and Fiers. Mike hasn’t relieved. Certainly wouldn’t bring him in in the middle of an inning. We’re just trying to get our best pitchers and be ready for any scenario.

Q. Those of us who cover the team were surprised about a couple things in their lineup today. I wonder what your reaction was to Diaz playing first base, the rookie Brosseau playing second and with Snell being on the roster, what were your thoughts on those things?
BOB MELVIN: I think they’re trying to get as many right-handed hitters in the lineup as they possibly can and guys that have been impactful against left-handed pitching. So the minute you go right, you’re going to see a different lineup. They can make line changes and they do it very well, and they’re very good about pinch-hitting. Their guys are aware of the situations, they identify the leveraged at-bats. So I think they’re trying to play against a lefty early in the game and they’re ready for a righty, and I think that’s why both those guys are in there.

Q. You mentioned Profar a little bit earlier who’s immersed against Morton. He was saying yesterday he feels like the postseason could be a fresh start for him. He’s been a guy who’s actually had the ability to drive in runs. What kind of weapon could he be for you today?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, he’s got experience late in the season. You know, he’s got some history, like I said, against this guy. He’s been playing pretty well here as of late, too. When Sheldon first got here, we gave him a lot of the reps and then Pro played himself back into the lineup, mostly against right-handed pitching, and at times he’s been really good defensively. There’s some balls that he’s thrown away. But there’s also been some really good plays he’s made here, and I think he’s playing with as much confidence as he has basically the entire season.

If you look at numbers, he’s 20 home runs and he’s knocked in some runs, so yeah, he feels pretty good about himself right now.

Q. Every rookie you’ve called up since August on made a pretty big impact down the stretch, and a lot of them are top prospects, but to see them produce at such a high level in crucial situations, how special is that to see?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, I mean, it’s part of what we think will be a bright future, and it’s here now, and a lot of our top prospects are here now. I think in our organization, players know that we give younger players an opportunity right away, and the opportunity to get them in spots where they have a chance to impact the team. And that’s been the case with every single one of these guys, whether it’s Puk, Luzardo, Murphy. Sheldon has done a good job, too, Murph.

Yeah, we brought them in at times we felt like they were playing good and got them in the lineup right away, which gives them confidence, as well. But you’ll see quite a few of these guys around here for a while. These are our top prospects, and they showed up about the right time.

Q. You made a roster move there, Barreto is in. Could you talk about this roster move and how Barreto could be useful to you in this game?
BOB MELVIN: Right, that was the hardest one was not having Steven on the roster, and he worked so hard to get back. You know, there was a time two weeks ago I didn’t think there was a chance that he would be able to even play a game toward the end of the season. He played the last game, he got four at-bats, he looked fine. So that was the toughest one.

I think just the lack of at-bats over the last month-plus played in, and the fact that Franklin gives us a pinch runner, he gives us a guy that can play the outfield and the infield and multiple positions in the infield. You never know where these games go, so you’re just trying to check all the boxes and have potentially a guy in a spot for any particular scenario, and that’s why Franklin is here.

Q. What can you say you might have drawn from the ’14 and last year’s Wild Card losses that you might apply?
BOB MELVIN: You know, well, I think the guys that are here now, last year was the game that they played in, so I think just having the experience in that game and realizing that it’s one thing to think you’re ready for it, it’s another to go out there and experience what it’s like because it’s different than the regular season. I think that bodes well for them, and plus we’re playing at home. I think that’s the biggest thing for us right now is we’ve played really well here at home. Our fans get into it, and it’s just a little different venue than what we were dealing with last year.

Just a little bit more comfortable with the home.

Q. Yesterday Kevin Cash said something along the lines of if he gets into a chess matchup with you, you’re probably going to win. How does it feel getting a compliment like that from your counterpart today?
BOB MELVIN: I don’t know that I agree with him, but you know what, he and I have gotten to know each other over the last couple of years, and I think probably have a mutual respect for how each team does things. There’s a lot of similarities between the two teams and how they do things.

They’re probably a little bit more apt to match up this year than we are. Maybe in years past we platooned at a few more positions and pinch-hit a little bit more. We probably do have 1 through 7 today, guys that we don’t really match up with. So it’s a little different. They continue to match up as good as anybody in the league. Kevin Cash is a premier manager in this league, and the way they do things can be difficult to get the players to buy in, and he’s gotten them to buy in 100 percent. So I think as far as the way they do things, he’s about as good as they get.

You know once this game gets going and once our starter is out of the game that they’re going to match up and they’re going to pinch-hit. They run, they hit and run, they first and third safeties, they do a lot of things to try to take you out of their game, and he’s really good at that.

Q. I know you’re obviously extremely focused on this game, but whoever advances runs into the Astros and that pitching they have. You saw them a lot during the year. What kind of challenge in a short series would that present to whatever it is?
BOB MELVIN: They’re a challenge. We’ve seen them all year. We’re focused on this game. Really not thinking about them too much right now.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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