Aug 30, 2013, 12:10 AM EDT
It’s easy to over-analyze everything that happens in baseball, with so many nuances and so much downtime fostering that tendency, but the Nationals right now are trying their darndest to avoid that temptation.
They know they’ve been playing much better ball for three weeks, they know they’ve been making up ground in the standings and they know what still must be done to complete the arduous task of salvaging a season that not long ago was firmly on the fritz.
But that’s as much as they want to know at the moment. After Thursday night’s 9-0 thrashing of the Marlins — the Nationals’ 14th win in 19 games — don’t ask them to explain why they’re playing so well, lest they start thinking about it too much and then fall right back into the trap that perhaps spoiled the first four months of this season.
“I still don’t really want to talk about the whole thing,” right fielder Jayson Werth said. “Silence is golden. We’ve got a long way to go. We’re playing some good baseball. We just need to keep going.”
With each passing day, the Nationals are getting closer to making this thing really interesting. Having won eight of their last nine, they now trail the Reds by 6 1/2 games for the final Wild Card berth in the NL, with 29 games to play.
They still face long odds, but the odds are getting better. Given a miniscule 0.7 percent chance of making the playoffs only three weeks ago when they were six games under .500, the Nationals now have a 12.3 percent chance of pulling it off, according to FanGraphs’ projection formula.
“Strange things happen in this game,” manager Davey Johnson said.
NL EAST STANDINGS
Through Monday's games
NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Monday's early games
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
(End of regular season)
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.
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