Aug 2, 2011, 4:19 AM EDT
Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Rick Ankiel homered twice to pace the Nationals’ lineup Monday night.
It’s a long way from the basement to the penthouse of the NL East, which may very well be baseball’s toughest division.
Sure, the AL East has the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. But the Phillies and Braves stack up against anyone else in the game, and the Mets and Marlins (despite some flaws) usually manage to keep themselves near the .500 mark.
Which leaves the Nationals in an unenviable position, trying somehow to leapfrog all those clubs and thrust themselves into the mix. They’ve been unable to make much of any dent in the seven seasons since they arrived in the District, finishing last five times, in fourth place once (2007) and currently sitting dead-last again.
If they have any visions of climbing that ladder, they simply must do a better job holding their own against these division rivals. They haven’t come close to doing that against their biggest nemeses: the Phillies and Marlins. And they’ve been hit-or-miss against the Mets.
But for some reason, the Nationals have been able to get the best of the Braves. Monday night’s 5-3 victory was their 15th in 28 head-to-head games with Atlanta over the last two seasons,
NL EAST STANDINGS
FRI: Nats at Mariners, 10:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Mariners, 9:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Mariners, 4:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 4:10 p.m.
Full season schedule
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
Follow us on Twitter
- Back-to-back struggles by Fister surprise Nats
- Phillies sweep red-hot Nationals
- LIVE THREAD: Nationals, Fister face Phillies on the road
- LaRoche confident back issue won't linger
- Can Doug Fister prevent Phillies from sweeping Nationals?
- The Nationals offense gets significantly quieter after blowout wins
- Gonzalez sees progress in latest start for Nats
- Nationals Stock Watch: Cabrera looking like a smart acquisition
- Nationals lament close call in loss to Phillies
- Nats struggle early, lose in controversial fashion to Phillies