Sep 17, 2012, 5:10 AM EDT
US Presswire photo
Michael Bourn eludes Kurt Suzuki’s tag to score a key seventh-inning run.
ATLANTA — Davey Johnson ambled through an otherwise silent clubhouse late Sunday night — black sweater, khaki slacks, white sneakers — and started cracking jokes to every player he encountered.
The Nationals had just lost a sloppy game to the Braves, 5-1, had just been swept by their lone remaining challenger in the NL East and had seen their once insurmountable, 8 1/2-game lead shrink to 5 1/2 games at the end of a difficult weekend.
Their left fielder has been out since Tuesday with a left hand injury. Their second baseman is now likely to miss at least the next series with a left shoulder injury that will require an MRI. What had been baseball’s best pitching staff all season is starting to show some cracks in the foundation. And what had been the league’s most-potent lineup for the last month was silenced the last three days by Atlanta’s pitching staff.
None of that, Johnson believes, should overshadow what the Nationals have done over the last 5 1/2 months, nor give them reason to worry about the 2 1/2 weeks they still have left in a pennant race that is far from over.
“I feel fine about where we’re at,” the 69-year-old manager insisted.
NL EAST STANDINGS
x-Clinched division title
WED: Nats at Braves, 7:10 p.m.
THU: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 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
- Nationals Stock Watch: NL East champs have plenty of risers
- Matt Williams quotes Robert Frost in postgame speech (VIDEO)
- VIDEO: Nats celebrate NL East title with loud music, lots of beer
- Nationals players react to winning NL East on Twitter
- PHOTOS: Harper wears custom firefighters helmet to celebrate
- Nationals clinch NL East with victory in Atlanta
- How did Zimmerman fare in first game action in Viera?
- Nationals play for NL East title tonight in Atlanta
- Has Strasburg earned Game 1 start in playoffs?
- Around the NL East: Braves on the verge of elimination