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Nats still see 'chance to do something special'

With NL East out of reach, Washington hangs on to top WC spot
@cdenicola13
September 21, 2019

MIAMI -- During Friday’s pregame media scrum at Marlins Park, Nationals manager Dave Martinez acknowledged the difficulty of staying clear of scoreboard watching, especially while he was away from the club. "You hear it every day, 24/7 and everything," Martinez said. "You can't go on Google without it popping up.

MIAMI -- During Friday’s pregame media scrum at Marlins Park, Nationals manager Dave Martinez acknowledged the difficulty of staying clear of scoreboard watching, especially while he was away from the club.

"You hear it every day, 24/7 and everything," Martinez said. "You can't go on Google without it popping up. But it's fun. We're playing for something, and it's a lot of fun."

Box score

Washington took care of its own business in Friday night’s 6-4 win over Miami to remain one game ahead of Milwaukee for the first National League Wild Card spot and three up on Chicago, which is on the outside looking in.

Meanwhile in Atlanta, the Braves secured their second straight NL East crown -- something that was a goal of the Nats entering 2019.

“Absolutely. One hundred percent,” Martinez said. “Now we've got a chance to do something special. We set our own destiny right now, so we've got to keep grinding, keep going. We've got 10 more games, and we're going to keep fighting.”

The Nationals relied on the long ball in the series opener against the Marlins, as Trea Turner recorded his fifth career multihomer game and second of the season, setting a franchise record for team home runs in a season in the process. Asdrúbal Cabrera added a three-run tater.

During their recent rough patch of losing 10 of 16, the Nationals averaged 8.5 runs per game in the wins and just two in the losses.

“For me, I take a lot of pride in that, and we take a lot of pride in that, being able to play baseball,” Turner said. “I've said throughout this year, I feel like we have a lot of baseball players on this team, guys that can make big pitches, guys that can bunt, hit behind runners, drive in a run when needed and then also can do the sexy stuff, hit homers and whatnot.

“The homers are definitely nice, but I think just playing a total baseball game, complete package, is what we do really well. I think that's why we've been consistently good for the last few months now, is that total package.”

And the bullpen picked up starter Aníbal Sánchez, who allowed four runs (three earned) in five-plus innings. The fourth reliever -- Daniel Hudson -- went two scoreless frames, inducing a game-ending double play to record his third save with the Nationals. Martinez had Sean Doolittle warming up in the bullpen, and he would’ve gone to him had the ninth extended to flip switch-hitter Neil Walker to the right side.

Hudson, whom the Nats acquired at the Trade Deadline to help a beleaguered relief corps, notched his second multi-inning save in four days. His ability to be called upon in high-leverage situations has been crucial as the postseason chase draws to a close.

“They're all pretty much must-win, they have been for a while,” Hudson said. “We were in a little bit of a tough stretch there facing a lot of really good arms, played some close games. Like I said the other day, it's kind of next man up. Gotta go get these W's and try to get in the playoffs.”

Christina De Nicola is a reporter and game producer for MLB.com based in Miami. Follow her on Twitter @CDeNicola13.