CINCINNATI -- The Nationals have the top pitching staff ERA (2.60 entering Sunday) in the National League. Their pitchers have stung the Reds repeatedly this season, and manager Dusty Baker has had enough.
"You've still got to hit them," Baker said. "I'm tired of tipping my hat to whoever is out there. How many days can you tip your hat? When I first got to the big leagues, I remember I asked Orlando Cepeda, 'Is it like this every day?' He said, 'Every day.' That's what he told me, and that was my big awakening.
"I was always taught that that dude over there has had three or four days to rest and just figure out how to get me out. I had less than 24 hours sometimes to go from one bad dude to another bad dude. That's a welcome to the big leagues. I'm not giving them too much credit."
Cincinnati has been held to two runs or less by Washington in four of the previous six meetings. Overall, the Reds are ranked 13th in the NL with a .236 average and are tied for sixth in team strikeouts (258).
Baker believes that the strikeouts weren't from being too aggressive, but not aggressive enough on quality pitches. Too often, in the manager's mind, the pitcher has had strike one.
"You want to attack that fastball," Baker said. "That's what we have to start doing as a unit. Everybody is asking, 'How come this guy is swinging at the first pitch sometimes, or do you want him to take a pitch?' We're taking fastballs and they're getting ahead of us.
"I don't know where people get that from, [asking], 'Why do you swing at the first pitch?' Especially with runners in scoring position, they're going to get ahead of you. There are only one of two things they can do to you, they either run at you and get ahead, or run from you and hope you chase them. If you don't, then they have to run at you."