Through all the ups and downs of this season, and with plenty of roster changes along the way, one of the constants for the Nationals has been manager Dusty Baker in their dugout, leading the way with his calm, experience-driven approach. For the first time all year, that was not the case on Wednesday afternoon, as Baker was absent due to the death of a close family member. In his place was bench coach Chris Speier, who spoke before the Nats played the Mets about how the team was preparing to play with heavy hearts.
Baker surely has a lot on his mind these days and is dealing with matters that are far more important than the game of baseball. But the Nats hope their impressive win over rival New York, one that dropped their magic number to win the NL East to seven, can help cheer him up.
"It was different. He's been there all year for us and today we had to pick him up a little bit," center fielder Trea Turner said. "Hopefully he can get back here as soon possible and everything is okay. That's what a team is, that's what a family is. We embrace each other and we pick each other up."
"It's an unfortunate situation that Dusty's going through and we wish him the best," catcher Wilson Ramos, who hit the go-ahead homer, said through an interpreter.
"We went out there with that in mind and hopefully uplifted him a little bit. I know he's very pleased and happy about the win we gave him today. We wish him all the best and, if anything, in a sad moment we gave him some kind of pleasure and happiness for today."
Speier was entrusted by Baker to take his place for Wednesday's game and may have to on Friday, when the Nats move on to Atlanta, as well. He has coached with Baker for years and considers him like a brother.
Speier admitted after the 1-0 win that he had Baker in mind the whole time.
"I got emotional. I was saying some powerful prayers. This one’s for Dusty," Speier said. "I know he’s happy today for that. It may add a little bit of joy to the tough time that he’s in right now."
It was a narrow win for the Nats, who saw Tanner Roark dominate through seven shutout innings and Ramos provide the only run on his seventh-inning solo homer. They held off the Mets, who have much more to play for at the moment, and they did it without Baker, who they hope to have back very soon.
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