It’s probably acceptable if the suddenly slugging Washington Nationals get a little greedy in their approach to Sunday afternoon’s game against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.
After winning the first two games of the series, the Nationals will go for their first series sweep of the season.
“Everything is clicking right now,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “The last two days everything was good, so let’s sustain that and keep going.”
The Brewers are mired in an eight-game losing streak.
“The great thing is that there’s a game (Sunday),” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “We get a chance to stop it (and) turn the tide.”
The Nationals have hammered a total of seven home runs in the first two games of the series, winning 11-5 and 8-6.
“This team will swing,” Counsell said of Nationals, realizing that too many pitches from Milwaukee hurlers have been left over the middle of the plate. “It’s really good hitters.”
Nelson Cruz and Josh Bell have homered in both games of the series.
“This is kind of what we envisioned,” Martinez said of power production, particularly from a veteran such as Cruz. “We built this lineup for this reason.”
The Brewers belted three homers Saturday, with one of those from second baseman Mark Mathias on the day he was called up from Triple-A Nashville for his third game of the season for Milwaukee.
“It looks like some guys are starting to swing it,” Counsell said. “Hopefully, that means some runs coming.”
There could be lots of inexperience on the mound Sunday.
Now it’s up to right-hander Jason Alexander (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to try to get the Brewers turned around in his third career start. He has pitched a total of 12 innings in the big leagues and didn’t factor into a decision as Milwaukee lost both games.
Martinez threw a bit of a curve when announcing that right-hander Paolo Espino (0-0, 2.03) would get the opening call. This will be his 21st game, but his first start of the season, though he made 19 starts a year ago. Espino has worked more than one inning only twice since April.
“We’ll go from there,” Martinez said. “We’ll see how long he can go. He dictates how much he’s going to throw. If he’s going good and he’s throwing strikes, he can go three, four, five innings.”
Paolo Espino has and ERA of 4.50 with eight strikeouts in three career appearances against the Brewers.
Yet the Nationals could still leave some of the heavy lifting for left-hander Evan Lee (0-1, 3.38). He made his major league debut earlier this month when he worked as a starter and was used in relief Tuesday.
Martinez had Lee watch from the dugout rather than the bullpen when the series began, a move that suggested he could be tagged for duty.
“We tell him all the time with everything going on right now, especially this next week, anything can happen,” Martinez said. “He’s well aware of that.”
It already has been a stretch of adjustments for Lee, who was with Double-A Harrisburg earlier this spring before the jump to the Nationals.
On Saturday, the Brewers put infielder Kolten Wong on the injured list because of an ailing right calf.
–Field Level Media