“You know, it’s huge, but it didn’t just start like miraculously. This has been something that’s been building since the end of May. I mean, we had our backs against the wall, and they stuck with it, and they believed in each other, and they believed that they were going to bounce back and this thing was going to turn around.” –Dave Martinez

October 14, 2019

Dave Martinez

Washington D.C. – postgame 3

Nationals 8, Cardinals 1

Q. Davey, with what Stras was able to do tonight and you’ve been around the game a long time, have you ever seen three as dominant a pitching performance in the postseason as you’ve gotten in all three of these games so far?
DAVE MARTINEZ: No, these guys, they started with Sanchez, Scherzer, and now tonight Stras. They’re feeding off each other, they really are, and it’s fun to watch.

Q. What do you mean by that, Dave, about feeding off each other as pitchers? We hear hitting is contagious. How do starters do that?
DAVE MARTINEZ: They sit there, and they watch, and they talk, and they communicate, and they get together, and they’re going over what they’ve done that helped them get successful that day. Then the next guy comes up. Even though Scherzer and Stras are hard, and Sanchez, they watch. They watch videos, and then they go out and they compete. They compete every day, and they compete amongst themselves. Like I said, it’s a lot of fun.

Q. So do you mean pregame in terms of the video study, they do it as a group kind of thing?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, they sit down, and they communicate, yeah. This is an unbelievably close group of guys, and they’re all — you know, they pull for each other. They all stand there and watch the first pitch. They don’t miss each other’s first pitch of the game, and they’re watching everything, and they’re learning from one another.

Q. That’s unique, isn’t it?
DAVE MARTINEZ: These guys — like I said, these guys, they’ve been good all year, and they’ve been behind each other all year, and when one guy seems to fail, I’ve never heard — they all congregate again, and they sit, and they get right back after it, and they pick him up. They said, here we go. Next start, we’re right there. Here we go. It’s been a lot of fun.

Q. Hey, Davey, your team obviously struggled early this year. Right now, they’re probably playing as confidently as they have all year. How important is confidence to a team’s success? And how confident are you that you can wrap up this series and go on to win a World Series?
DAVE MARTINEZ: You know, it’s huge, but it didn’t just start like miraculously. This has been something that’s been building since the end of May. I mean, we had our backs against the wall, and they stuck with it, and they believed in each other, and they believed that they were going to bounce back and this thing was going to turn around.

I’ve said it before, we’ve been playing playoff games since then. We had to play really good to come back and do the things we’ve done, and now, in September, they believed that they can do this, and they’re going out there, and they’re not taking anything for granted, and they’re playing really hard, and they’re playing to win one game every day. The big message, I say it every day, is to go 1-0 every day, and they believe that.

Q. At the pregame press conference, everybody’s asking Patrick Corbin about him relieving. It was obviously your idea to bring starters as relievers. Why did you decide to do that, and how does that affect the game?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For me, obviously, Patrick is going to start tomorrow. The other day when I put him in to face one-hitter, I went to go get him, and he actually made a comment about, you know, I could probably be a left-on-left guy, and I said, not right now you’re not. So just get your rest and be ready to pitch Game 4. And he’s ready.

But these guys, like I said, they get it. They want to do whatever they can to help us win. They believe in each other. I mean, I’ve said this before, they’re all in. They all care for each other. It’s one big family in there, and they just want to win every day.

Q. Davey, you’ve done a remarkable job of trying to keep Howie healthy all year and Zim, as well. Of course, Zim was on the IL with the foot problem, but to have both of them come up so huge in this game and Howie with three doubles tonight and three RBIs, can you just speak to what that means to the middle of that lineup?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Big. It’s huge for us. Him and Zim are both playing really well, on both sides of the ball. I know Howie’s hitting. He had his struggles in the Dodgers series, and he made a pretty good play the other day at second base. We’re getting professional at-bats from those guys. Everybody says they’re older, and I just look at him as just guys who have been around and veteran guys that have stepped up to the moment, and they’re a big reason why we’re here. Having those two guys healthy helps us out a lot.

Q. Being where he is in his career, do you get a sense of how badly Howie wants this?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He wants it, and the rest of his teammates feed off of that, and they see it. We’re all big fans of Howie. Every one of us in that clubhouse, and what he does on the field, off the field. I mean, he’s been that quiet leader for us all year long.

Q. Davey, all season long you’ve told the team, we just have to go 1-0 today, 1-0 today, and you guys have done that pretty consistently. Do you kind of allow yourself and the guys to start thinking, well, if we go 1-0 tomorrow, we go to the World Series. Do you allow yourselves to start thinking ahead of it or still 1-0?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Honestly, and I mean this sincerely, I have not thought about it yet. I’m worried about just getting through tomorrow, go 1-0 tomorrow, and we’ll see what happens then. Yeah, I never — I thought about lineups and stuff for tomorrow, and we know Pat’s going. I like the fact that we didn’t have to use Huddy or Doo today, so that was nice. So we’re prepared for tomorrow.

Q. That last inning mound conversation with Strasburg, what did he say to you, and what did you say to him?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He didn’t want to come out of the game. I was trying to explain to him, hey, you just grabbed your hamstring, so there’s a little concern. He said, no, I cramped up. It’s fine. I always cramp up. He said, I’m staying in the game. I want to finish this inning. I said, you sure you’re all right? He said, I’m in the game! And I looked at Suzuki, and Suzuki said, let him finish. I said, hey, you don’t have to twist my arm. You’re throwing the ball good, but I want to make sure you’re okay, and he was good. He finished the inning strong.

Q. There’s obviously a lot that was working for Strasburg tonight, but with his change-up specifically, what did you see there that makes that so impossible to hit?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I talked about this earlier with his change-up. For me, anybody that has a good change-up, their arm action is really good, and his was really good today. He has the same tempo as he does with his fastball, and the ball at the end just disappears, and he was really good. But I think, honestly, what made it really good today was his fastball, utilizing his fastball at the right moment made his change-up that much better.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

“We’ve got to figure out a way to create some offense early in the game and be able to hold it there. It’s the first time our pitching hasn’t been able to contain this offense. I’m confident we’ll be able to do that tomorrow.” — Mike Shildt

October 14, 2019

Mike Shildt

Washington D.C. – postgame 3

Nationals 8, Cardinals 1

Q. Mike, with you all in the situation you find yourselves in now, what’s the first thing you have to do to get things pointed back in the direction you want?
MIKE SHILDT: We’ve got to get the lead. We’ve got to get a lead at some point in this series. Hard to win a game if you can’t get a lead. We’ve got to figure out a way to create some offense early in the game and be able to hold it there. It’s the first time our pitching hasn’t been able to contain this offense. I’m confident we’ll be able to do that tomorrow.

We’ve got to play with a lead.

Q. Mike, what was your view of Marcell Ozuna’s attempt to make the sliding catch? Did you see that as kind of the full crumb of the game because, obviously, three runs scored after that, but Jack might have gone deep or you might not have had to go as deep in the bullpen.
MIKE SHILDT: It’s not an easy play any time you have to leave your feet and go a distance and slide. It’s a play that he’s clearly capable of making, but it’s not a play you absolutely expect somebody to make. There’s a lot of other plays in the game that were a factor that I can’t single that out as being the full crumb that led to the rest of the game.

Q. You mentioned some of those other plays. It seemed like — is it fair to say that a lot of the reasons you guys are here, the things you did right all over the course of the season seemed to get away from you tonight — base running, some defensive plays that might have been made in the past. It seemed like the offense we’ve talked a lot about, but the things that sustained the offense when it wasn’t coming through gave way a little bit?
MIKE SHILDT: It wasn’t our cleanest game, in some of those regard, not a lot of opportunities. Got called off at second base trying to move a runner. I think that’s what you’re alluding to. Could have gotten the lead at that point, trying to make a play. Not our cleanest game. Some nice plays defensively, no errors. Like you said, the Ozuna play, but, again, that’s not exactly a play you can expect a guy to make when he leaves his feet.

Just not a lot of opportunities to do as much. We had more tonight, some guys out there, and weren’t able to get that big hit. Took better at-bats. Their guy was good again.

We’ve just got to be — we haven’t been able to play our brand of baseball in full. We haven’t been able to get in rhythm or sync, but we still have more baseball to play.

Q. Can you pinpoint the reason why you say that about not being able to find the rhythm or be in sync? Can you pinpoint the reason?
MIKE SHILDT: It’s a combination. This is a group that right now is pitching very, very well. The other side’s trying, too. We’re in a highly competitive series, and they’ve done a really good job of being able to hold us off. They’ve been pitching really, really well. The length of their lineup showed up tonight and weren’t able to contain that. We’ve just got to be able to create more opportunities and put the pressure on them a little bit more. We just haven’t been able to get that.

They’ve had a lot to say about that. They’ve done a nice job. They played good baseball.

Q. What did you see with Jack in the four innings he got?
MIKE SHILDT: Stuff was great early, crisp, a couple ground ball hits, the play that Mark alluded to. Ground ball, bunt him over, ground ball, base hit, 1-0, tough play, and it’s 2-0. Then we had an open base, like the ability — you know, pick your poison. We could have put Kendrick on right there, but you get a guy in Zimmerman swinging the bat well right behind him, so didn’t make a pitch there. That was probably the biggest part of that was that pitch at that moment.

But I thought Jack was good. It’s 4-0, and unfortunately, we’ve got to hit for him.

Q. There’s only been one team who overcame this deficit that you’re in right now. Do you draw on that, or is it all about tomorrow for you right now?
MIKE SHILDT: It’s all about tomorrow. I can tell you this, and it’s appropriate for the area we’re at. There is no concession speech being written. This is a team that can absolutely win four games in a row, and clearly we have to start tomorrow, and we’ve got to get after it, which we will, and we have, but anybody that’s seen this team, we’re obviously clearly in a tough spot. There is precedent for it, but this team has created its own precedent this year a lot in a lot of things we’ve done throughout the course of this year.

So take care of business tomorrow, and then who knows, right? This group will bite, scratch, and claw. We’re going to figure out a way to win tomorrow.

Q. Specifically to the top of the lineup, you made some changes today and got results there in the middle. But when you don’t have those guys on, what are you seeing from those top three on a night like tonight other than just great pitching?
MIKE SHILDT: Great pitching and just weren’t able to put — string together the consistent at-bats we want. Again, a combination of both. We can’t and won’t pin it on anybody, but we need to get that production from the top. We got it through the middle. Jos�y rewarded and earned his start. We’ll get another one. Yadi takes good at-bats. Like the bats Paulie took, as well. Looked good. So we just have to be able to — and Ozuna, of course.

It happens like this, you know. If we could explain it, if we knew exactly what it was, we’d do it. Clearly, it’s not for a lack of effort or comprehension, but we’ve got to figure out a way to get it done.

Q. Mike, obviously, they’ve had terrific starting pitching, but are you shocked, surprised by just how little offensive production your team’s had?
MIKE SHILDT: Listen, we know — we played a series with them. You play these guys with that pitching, you’re going to be in for typically a low-scoring situation, but I’ve got to say this. As we tip our hat, we’ve also got to say that we didn’t expect to be — have scored two runs in three games by any stretch of the imagination. Like I said, we respect our opponent. These guys have done a great job of pitching. They’ve had a good game plan. They’ve executed their game plan, but by no means did we have anywhere close to the expectation that we would be pretty much shut down. Like I said, it can turn on a dime.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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