As you’ve probably read by now, the Washington Nationals were swept by the Atlanta Braves over the weekend, in a series where the Nats gave up 13 walks, allowed 3 batters to reach on errors, and hit 2 Braves batters (well really only 2 – Saturday’s brush of Andrelton Simmons by Ryan Mattheus was a figment of the home plate umpire’s imagination). And that bad call that led to Martín Prado being erroneously called safe at first that led Nationals’ Manager Davey Johnson to get ejected and was followed by a 2-run homer by Jayson Heyward? Yeah, that didn’t help either, and neither did Ian Desmond’s errant throw to home plate on
Friday night’s game that led to a walk-off win by the Braves in the bottom of the ninth.
Offensively, the Nats got just four runs in the three games, they struck out 35 times, and they had only 15 at-bats with runners in scoring position. They were playing in a ballpark that felt like a football stadium, with fans doing that stupid “tomahawk chop” (which I’m banning when I become Commissioner). It definitely felt like the playoffs, and the Nationals did not handle the stress well.
With 16 games left in the regular season, the Nationals are coming off a sloppy and forgettable series. They have Michael Morse, one of their biggest power hitters, out with a nagging wrist injury. They have their wonderfully-fielding second baseman, Danny Espinosa, with a hurting left shoulder. They no longer have pitching ace Stephen Strasburg in the starting rotation. Oh, and they have a division lead which decreased by 3 games in 3 days. Should we worry?
The Nationals are still 5 ½ games above the Braves in first place in the NL East. They still have the best record in the Majors at 89-57. They will be returning to DC for games against the Dodgers and Brewers, where they definitely have the home-field advantage. And check out this fact that I got from the Internet: “If the Nationals play .500 ball the rest of the way out, the Braves would need to go 14-1 in order to overtake them for the NL East title.” (www.masnsports.com) So I guess the Nationals are still OK, despite this past weekend’s lousy performances. Basically a LOT would have to go wrong at this point in order for the Nationals to lose their first-place spot atop the NL East.
But it still stinks being swept – let’s not have that happen again this season!
About the Author
Written by Marien Hornyak
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico but have lived in the continental US for 22 years. I have a BS in Athletic Training and a MEd in Sport Management, where I did my thesis on "The History of Baseball Litigation." I am a wife, mother of 2, and self-proclaimed "Baseball Nerd." My favorite baseball players include Roberto Clemente, Kirby Puckett, and Iván Rodriguez.