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Red Sox put New York chaos in rear-view mirror with sweep of Nationals

Rob Bradford
July 04, 2018 - 2:30 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While that series in New York seemed so convoluted, these three games were pretty simple.

The Nationals aren't probably as bad as the Red Sox made them look in a sweep at Nationals Park. They have come across tough times, even before Alex Cora's club came to town. But give the Sox credit, they did what they needed to do, which in the world of this kind of pennant race is exactly the kind of thing that can define a true contender.

Rest J.D. Martinez? Mookie Betts hits the key home run.

Need Brian Johnson to make another start? Score a bunch of runs, get 4 2/3 good innings from the lefty and go from there.

Eduardo Rodriguez wasn't throwing enough changeups? How does 26 sound en route to six shutout innings for the starter sound?

It hasn't been all that complicated for the most part with this team, a trend that was driven home in a series that was punctuated by the Red Sox' 3-0 win over the Nationals Wednesday morning/afternoon. (For a complete recap of the Red Sox' win, click here.)

"We came in and swept. You don’t need to get up in all that other crap. It’s all noise. It has nothing to do with us," Martinez said. "That’s just media and all that kind of distractions and stuff. Whether we’re playing the Yankees or we’re playing the Nationals, we just want to go out there and play our game and not worry about anything else."

By the time the clubhouse opened Monday afternoon, there were virtually no remnants of the chaos that seemed to linger in the Bronx. David Price, the subject of 15 storylines after poor Sunday night start, was sitting calmly at his locker, tending to a crossword puzzle. Another chunk of the team could be found zig-zagging between their lockers and meeting rooms, doing the kind of things one does when not quite knowing the lay of the land in a National League park.

Betts talked about taking batting practice for the sole reason that he wasn't familiar with the backdrop (certainly not rushing to enter into the 100-degree heat for no good reason).

Johnson and Rodriguez reflected on that day when the former drove the latter from the airport in Portland, Maine when Rodriguez was traded to the Red Sox almost four years ago.

Blake Swihart recounted turning his first-ever double play as second baseman, while William Cuevas soaked in the luxuries of a major league clubhouse, knowing it was going to be a 48-hour experience.

The next day was mostly about watching England take on Columbia in World Cup action, with Sandy Leon separating himself from the rest of the team by choosing to watch it in the clubhouse instead of the dining room, where occasional screams routinely emanated from.

There were issues to tend to. Mitch Moreland's back. Drew Pomeranz's rehab outing. Tyler Thornburg's return. But the point is that these last 27 innings reeked of a team just taking care of business.

Joe Kelly has a rough outing on Monday, e bounces back by striking out two of his three batters in this one. Jackie Bradley steps to the plate in the ninth with his average sitting just under .200, he rips an RBI double into the right-center field gap. Rodriguez comes out and rediscovers his dominant self after two straight ugly outings.

By the time the Red Sox boarded their plane for Kansas City, they had accumulated 59 wins, three more than any team in baseball. Maybe it's easy to stay calm when you're carrying that kind of record. But if there is one reminder to take out of the trip to the nation's capital it's this: they're making a habit of making things seem easy.

"I'm proud of them, they show up every day, they prepare, they go about their business the right way," Cora said. "They enjoy winning and they don't get caught up in whatever's going on around us. They're focused on the task at hand. We know where we're at but we still have a long ways to go."

The Red Sox has also now won 18 of their last 20 Interleague contests, including 12 of their last 13. Wednesday's win also marked Boston’s 21st victory in day games this season, improving their Major League-best winning percentage in day games to .808 (21-5). They have won 15 of their last 17 day games, including four straight.

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