Lost, shell-shocked, helpless. These are all words that could describe what the Washington Nationals looked like as the third week of May and the promise of the long Memorial Day weekend started to settle in the minds of people in the capital region.
The team had a record of 19-31 and were staring down the barrel of a loaded gun in the form of Bryce Harper and the Phillies in sole possession of first place in the NL East, and a surging Braves team that had started to find its identity and compile wins.
Even the Marlins, if for a brief moment, could have caught up with the Nationals and sent the team into an embarrassing last place in the division.
That would have likely been the end of Davey Martinez’ tenure as skipper, and who knows if it could have triggered heavy-handed decisions on the future of several players on the roster.
And then Friday, May 24 came about.
The Nationals were to host the Marlins for a four-game set at Nationals Park. Kyle McGowin was slated to start for Washington – his second career start in the majors – in big part as a result of the team’s decimated pitching staff.
The game was back-and-forth and dirty, with five total errors – four of them by the Nationals – who entered the bottom of the eighth inning down by one, 9-8.
Starting with that win on May 24, the Nats have won 12 of their last 16 games and successfully re-entered the NL East conversation at a record of 31-35, only four games under .500 and six games behind the Phillies and the Braves who are tied for first place.
The narrative has shifted from a need to fire Davey Martinez immediately in search of a reaction, to giving him credit for the poise that his team has shown in the face of adversity during the last two weeks.
This stretch wasn’t easy either. While it started with a four-game set against the Marlins at home, only two of the next 12 games took place at Nationals Park, including a trip down to Atlanta in which the Nats swept the Braves in a two-game series.
Given where they seemed to be in mid-May, physically and mentally, this is remarkable, folks.
And we should really consider giving a ton of credit for his team’s resilience to Davey Martinez.
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