The Washington Nationals sport two of baseball’s finest starting pitchers (one, when Stephen Strasburg in on the disabled list, which is, um, always) and enough bats to actually win something other than regular-season games.
Instead, in this disappointing slog under new manager Dave Martinez, they are a .500 team (53-53), 5 ½ games behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East. Under Dusty Baker, the Nats won 95 games in 2016 and 97 in 2017 but lost the National League Divisional Series in five games both years. That led the Nats to fire Baker, and from Dusty they went straight into the dirt.
Which brings us to Tuesday night, when their vengeful bats exploded in a 25-4 win over the New York Mets, starting with a seven-run first inning. It got so bad for the Mets late in the game that they put infielder Jose Reyes on the mound – he gave up six runs.
The Nats haven’t had it easy, or made it easy for themselves, but the last few days were particularly rough. There was talk that outfielder Bryce Harper was being shopped (the trade deadline was Tuesday) and assorted unsavory tweets from infielder Trea Turner, concocted in 2011 and 2012 while he was in college, surfaced over the weekend. That led to an apology tour and MLB’s mandate of sensitivity training.
The Nats are only the 10th team in baseball history to score 25 runs in a game.
As less-than-successful as the season has been, it’s not as if the Nats are out of the race. They can make up 5 ½ games if they play to their talent.
“All you can do is control the effort and make the choice to engage in every single pitch. Hopefully we will continue to do that, and I think we will,” said second baseman Daniel Murphy, who homered twice against the Mets.
Hopefully. Well, that sounds hopeful.
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