Manager Dusty Baker, prior to facing the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday, talked about the Nationals’ home and away records and how they do in day games.
The club was coming off another long road trip of nine or more games. In those three long trips, the Nationals have been outstanding, going 23-5 (.821).
The Nationals have the National League’s best road record at 33-19 (.635). Why are they so good on the road?
“Well, number one, we get the first at-bat,” Baker said during Tusday’s pregame. “Like the other day we scored three or four in the first inning. That’s big. We make a conscientious effort to talk about it in spring training to try to be the best road team in the world.”
But after the Nationals’ 8-0 loss to the Brewers in the series opener Tuesday night, the Nats are 26-20 (.565) at home. Still good, but not to the level that Baker would like.
Could it be that the team might relax a bit once they’re back in their own beds and at their home park?
“Now we got to work on our home record,” Baker said during Tuesday’s pregame. “And part of our home record, I feel, is coming back late: We didn’t get in until 6 a.m. the other morning before the off day. Before that we had to come back from L.A. and play here (against the Orioles). It would have been really advantageous (to have) our first couple days back home and also the different times we play, so now we got to concentrate on a couple things: our home record and our daytime record, which we play mostly at home.”
The Nationals are 19-21 (.475) during the day. They are 40-18 (.6896) at night. But I believe the day-game record is a bit skewed because Baker will usually use a backup lineup on those days to give his regulars a rest.
“We can’t dwell on how well we’ve done on the road because we’re home now. We’ve already done that,” Baker said. “We have to increase our home superiority.”
Bryce Harper was asked after the loss to Milwaukee if the long flight and early arrival might have contributed to the team’s flat performance.
“Getting home at 6 a.m. is pretty tough, then you’re a little out of whack, but that’s no excuse,” Harper said. “Try to go out there and do things you can to win a ballgame. Like I said, we got beat tonight. They swung it well tonight, and we’ll go out there tomorrow and get it done.”
“We were hoping that (Jackson) could get into the fifth because we only had, really, one kind of long man in (Matt) Albers and didn’t want to really use him in that situation. We were hoping he would get through the fifth, which he did. We saved the majority of our bullpen, so that was a positive tonight.”
And then there is a Milwaukee team that has the ability to beat you and has been wanting to jump out of a recent 1-7 slump, which included a six-game losing streak that allowed the Cubs to get back into their division race. Baker knew before Tuesday’s loss the Brewers would be a tough out.
“It poses a problem because we don’t know anything about Milwaukee,” Baker cautioned. “We are dependent on our advance scouts and our literature on them and our history with them. Even though we don’t have a bunch of history ‘cause they have so many young players and so many new players that we really don’t know much about. They always pose a problem.
“This is kind of late not to have played a team. It’s almost August and we haven’t played them at all. That’s the problem that it presents, is you’re not familiar with the opposition and they’re probably more familiar with our players then we are theirs because ours have been around a lot longer.
“This is going to be a very tough series. They’ve got speed, they’ve got power. They’re not where they are this late because they’re not a good team. They are indeed a good team.”
The Nats will get a chance to improve that day record Thursday when they face the Brewers in a 12:05 p.m. series-ending getaway-day early-afternoon special.