September 22, 2013
Just as we die-hard Nats fans had expected, the Washington Nationals have rebounded late in the season, and as their final home stand concludes they are still in the running for a post-season berth. It has been a wonderful spectacle, with multiple games when heroes rose to the occasion. Ryan Zimmerman is setting home run records, while Jayson Werth and Wilson Ramos continue to provide great slugging power. But is it too late?
After struggling just to get back above .500 during mid-summer, the Nats are now 83-71, by far the greatest win-loss percentage (.539) they have reached this season. But they are still 4 1/2 games behind the Reds in the wild card race, and they will be eliminated from the NL East Division race if either they lose any game or the Braves win any game. (Atlanta's magic number is 1.) Alas, with only eight games left to play, hopes for October baseball have just about evaporated. But at least they stayed alive until the final week of the season, giving Washington fans a reason to go to the ballpark and cheer their team on. With any luck, I'll be one of the faces in the crowd at Nationals Park this afternoon!
Wouldn't you know it, the Nats are having one of their very best months in team history, and I've been too busy with teaching duties to properly document it on this blog. Much like April 2012. C'est la vie...
The opening game of the series against the Atlanta Braves last week had to be pushed back a day because of the tragic mass shooting at the nearby Navy Yards. Twelve people were murdered before D.C. police took down the lone gunman. Before the afternoon game on Tuesday, there was a moment of silence in which both teams lined up and bowed their heads as a gesture of respect and sympathy. See MLB.com. I walk by the Navy Yards almost every time I see a game at Nationals Park, so that area is quite familiar to me.
Denard Span came close to matching Ryan Zimmerman's team record hitting streak of 30 games. He ended up with a hitting streak 29 games, his career best, and surpassing the Rockies' Michael Cuddyer for the best in the majors this year. On the next day after he went hitless, Span went 2 or 4. He has had a fantastic second half of the season, and when combined with his superb defensive prowess in center field, he has proven himself to be a valuable and worthy member of the team.