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Still-breathing Nats still believe

Sep 11, 2013, 12:37 AM EDT

Associated Press AP

NEW YORK — Yes, the Nationals know they have to keep winning ballgames, maybe every single one remaining on their schedule. But they also know they’re going to need some help from somebody ahead of them in the standings, so they fully admit to scoreboard watching even as they’re trying to scratch and claw their way to as many wins as they can compile by season’s end.

“I’m very aware,” Jayson Werth said. “I’ve been aware for, well, for a while.”

So perhaps just as important as the Nationals’ 6-3 victory over the Mets on Tuesday was the Reds’ second-straight loss to the woeful Cubs. Just like that, the Nats gained back a game in the NL Wild Card race. The deficit now stands at 6 games (only 5 in the loss column) with 18 to play.

Is it unlikely they can make up that ground over the next 2 1/2 weeks and somehow extend their season into October? Absolutely. But is it within the realm of possibility? Yes, it is. And nobody knows that better than Werth.

Six years ago, Werth’s Phillies trailed the Mets by 7 games in the NL East with 17 to go. New York, with a powerhouse roster, appeared a lock to win its second straight division title over a still-young Philadelphia club. That, of course, didn’t happen. Philadelphia swiped away the East crown on the season’s final day, and Werth can’t help but see some similarities with his current team’s predicament.

“We’re not there yet [but] I can see it,” he said. “I know it’s possible. I’ve done it. We can see it, but we know what we’ve got to do. It’s obvious what we have to take care of, and that’s really all you can focus on. You’ve just got to hope for the best for the other stuff, but I mean, it’s pretty obvious.”

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  1. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 11, 2013 at 12:53 AM

    I would love to believe, as well, but this season has taken its toll on my sense of what’s possible.

  2. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 11, 2013 at 1:47 AM

    Indifferent to gain or loss, to victory or defeat, prepare yourself for battle and do not succumb to sin.

    On this path no effort is wasted, no gain is ever reversed; even a little of this practice will shelter you from great sorrow.

    The resolute in discipline surrender results, and gain perfect peace; the irresolute, attached to results, are bound by everything they do.

  3. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 11, 2013 at 1:50 AM

    Self-possessed, resolute, act without any thought of results, open to success or failure. This equanimity is the path.

  4. Joe Seamhead - Sep 11, 2013 at 5:50 AM

    Relax…we got this!
    Lol

  5. David Proctor - Sep 11, 2013 at 6:06 AM

    I just remembered the 2007 Rockies. After game 148, they were 76-72. Surely, they were toast right? I mean a 76-72 team that hovered around .500 for much of the year didn’t possibly have a crazy run in them. They hadn’t done anything like it all year.

    They ended up winning 15 of their next 16 (including a ridiculous 11 in a row) and finished with 90 wins, winning the wildcard.

    We’re at game 144 at 75-69.

    After game 144, the 2007 Phillies were 76-68. One game better than we are. But they were also 6 games back. As Jayson Werth would tell you, they made the playoffs.

    After game 144, the 2011 Cardinals were 77-67. 2 games better than we are. But they were 7 games back, 1 game behind where we are. They obviously ended up making the postseason and winning the World Series.

    After Game 144, the 2011 Rays were 7 games back. They made it, although granted they did have 80 wins at the time.

    Crazy things happen in this game, especially in September. Nobody thought the 2007 Rockies had a shot. Nobody thought the 2007 Phillies had a shot. Nobody thought the 2011 Cardinals had a shot.

    Nobody thinks the 2013 Nationals have a shot. But history shows that they do. They just have to seize the opportunity.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 11, 2013 at 6:18 AM

      stop David. Stop getting my hopes up again.

    • bowdenball - Sep 11, 2013 at 9:02 AM

      Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And Nats fans should keep it alive until there’s an E in the games back column. So it’s great that you have these examples for us. I’ll be rooting and scoreboard watching tonight for sure.

      But obviously it should also be noted that your list excludes the hundreds of examples of teams in a similar predicament that didn’t make the playoffs.

    • Hiram Hover - Sep 11, 2013 at 9:40 AM

      Absolutely – keep hope alive.

      Bear in mind, tho, that those kinds of comebacks happen only when your team performs phenomenally well, AND another team collapses.

      So remember to hope for both things, because only one won’t do it.

      • adcwonk - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:45 AM

        That’s true HH, but consider one thing different this year:

        All those examples were based on one team doing very well, and the other team collapsing — but this year, we need the Nats to do very well, and either one of two teams collapsing.

        Which doesn’t make it easy — but does make it somewhat easi*er*

  6. David Proctor - Sep 11, 2013 at 6:10 AM

    Having said all of that, I don’t have any faith in Dan Haren anymore. We can just hope we get good Haren. I wish we had Det.

  7. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 11, 2013 at 6:38 AM

    I fell asleep in the 8th inning…. Argh and didnt hit the record button…. Glad we won!

    Damn the dodgers…. Had they just taken care of business, things could be even more interesting…

    With that said, I expect a loss tonight…. Haren will implode…. I’m fine with taking 3 out of 4….

    • jd - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:08 AM

      If you want to believe that we still have a chance then 3 of 4 from the Mets is not a good thing. It may be all we can do but it will likely leave us quite far behind with less time to recover.

  8. laddieblahblah - Sep 11, 2013 at 6:39 AM

    Tonight would be as good a time as any for Haren to earn some of that $13 mn Rizzo paid him for games just like tonight’s.

    The Nats are doing themselves and their faithful proud by refusing to accept defeat. So many things went wrong this season but now, suddenly, everything seems to be going right. If Haren comes through, just when they need him to, then anything can happen. The pen, the bench, the starters and the bats are all going strong.

    Davey made exactly the right move last night by sending Hairston up against the Mets’ LOOGY, not long after he yanked JZ, and just in time, too. Somebody has taught the guys in the pen how to hold runners on (FP said it was Randy). Maybe it has been Randy calling the shots from the bench, lately, and not Davey. Somebody is doing something right in the dugout, too.

    Regardless, it’s fun to watch. They have a chance. We have all seen stranger things happen in this game. Just after the Reds took LA to the cleaners, they drop 2 straight to the lowly Cubbies, and at home, no less. You never know.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 11, 2013 at 8:14 AM

      If Lombo had gotten in front of the bag instead of behind the bag on the first steal attempt last night, Ramos would’ve thrown out 3 baserunners last night.

      The big difference is the pitchers for the most part are doing a better job of delivering quicker to the plate in obvious steal situations, and Ramos has thrown bullets down to 2nd.

      • laddieblahblah - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:15 AM

        “The big difference is the pitchers for the most part are doing a better job of delivering quicker to the plate in obvious steal situations, and Ramos has thrown bullets down to 2nd.”

        No doubt, and its about time the pitchers started doing their part. I don’t know who deserves the credit, but FP specifically mentioned Randy on last night’s MASN broadcast. He timed Storen’s stretch delivery at 1.3 seconds, compared to the 1.6 – 1.7 seconds that it used to take. He practically called the failure of any Met steal attempt against Storen’s new delivery and Ramos’ arm.

  9. another0sam - Sep 11, 2013 at 7:52 AM

    Finally some fun.

    I’m a casualty of the switchover.

    Ive seen comment about some posters missing games due to travel. I remind you – two words: sattelite radio.

    One of these days I’ll figure out how to revert to Another_Sam.

    Old topic I know: I’d be okay with a very limited role for the clearly injured Harper, for the rest of the season.

  10. natsfan1a - Sep 11, 2013 at 8:04 AM

    fyi:

    1. Log in. There’s a login link at the bottom of the page, near the comments box.
    2. At the top right corner of the browser, you’ll see your login–hover on that, and click on your profile name to go to “My Account” page, where you can change most of your settings.
    3. Click on “Public Profile” under Settings.
    4. Edit “Public Display Name” to whatever appropriate and suitable handle you want to use.
    5. Click on “Save Changes”

  11. natsfan1a - Sep 11, 2013 at 8:05 AM

    (hat tip to sofa and the new, improved NIDO for the instructions)

    http://prettyfrickenbueno.wordpress.com/how-to/

  12. Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 11, 2013 at 8:18 AM

    I don’t know if this has been mentioned but Hairston’s 2 HRs came against his 2 previous teams he had played for. I wish he did that against all the teams.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:08 AM

      Or that he had played for the Braves and Cardinals…

    • laddieblahblah - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      Do you like him yet? Seems like the Nats have a nice problem for next year’s bench. It looks like Brown will take Bernie’s old spot as the 4th outfielder, while also giving them the lefty power bat off the bench, as well as a base-stealing pinch-runner. I don’t see how they leave TyMo off next year’s team, either, as a righty power bat and back-up for ALR, assuming they keep Adam. And TyMo can platoon against lefties at both 1b and LF.

      That leaves 2 spots on the bench, besides catcher. Tracy will not be there next year. That leaves Lombo, Hairston, and possibly Walters as back-up infielders. Walters would give them a young power bat from both sides of the plate. Very tempting to keep him, except that he is a disaster in the field. Hairston cannot play the IF and, of course, Lombo can.

      Any opinion on who they keep there? Or if Rizzo goes elsewhere? I would probably keep Lombo and send Walters back down until he learns how to catch and throw.

  13. Section 222 - Sep 11, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    If Stras, Gio, and JZnn could start every game from here on in, and we could play the Marlins, Mets, and Phillies for the rest of the season, I’d start believing too. I’d love to believe. I really would. But like those endless GEICO commercials, I can’t. Still, I’m happy they’re playing well finally.

    Didn’t somebody here suggest we needed to acquire a pitcher for the stretch run because Det and Haren were not going to do it?

    • NatsLady - Sep 11, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      That was me–MANY times. Rizzo didn’t do it. He did get Roark, which is almost like acquiring another SP.

      • Section 222 - Sep 11, 2013 at 2:42 PM

        It was me too. At least we still have Brian Goodwin for next year in Syracuse. :-)

        He got Roark a long time ago. And he’s been a nice surprise so far. But would you really choose him to be your No. 5 down the stretch in a pennant race? I wouldn’t.

  14. Sec 309 - Sep 11, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    If Haren gets shelled again tonight, there’s nothing to prevent Rizzo from calling up a couple of minor league starters such as Karns to tag-team his remaining starts.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 11, 2013 at 9:19 AM

      Doubtful Rizzo would do that but Davey has to do what he did last night and put on the short leash.

  15. Whynat - Sep 11, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    Whynat reporting for comment duty.

  16. natsfan1a - Sep 11, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    So, this is kinda funny (imo). On this Reds blog I just turned up, there are fans complaining about managerial decisions, attendance, and perceived player attitudes. There’s even a passing mention of our Nats and the WC chase (Wait, we’re on their radar?). (Caution: Contains some language and pics that are not suitable for work.)

    http://redlegnation.com/2013/09/10/game-thread-stupid-cubs-at-reds-2013-09-10/

    • Section 222 - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:36 AM

      Very funny. Amazing how much it resembles this blog too. With a little work, would could probably each find a commenter who is our alter ego.

      • natsfan1a - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:53 AM

        Indeed, I’m thinking that there are various “sports blog commenter” types that are represented everywhere (or at least on baseball blogs, which are the only sports blogs that I frequent).

  17. Theophilus T.S. - Sep 11, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    It’s stunning, absolutely stunning, that it has taken nearly two years and occasional trips to the minors for the Nats pitching staff to come to the realization they have a responsibility to hold runners on base. (And some, like the balky Strasburg, as revealed by Steve McCatty, haven’t yet bought into it.)

    It draws your attention back to the glossed-over manager’s office shouting match between Johnson and Rizzo, “You come on down here and try managing these guys!” We begin to see what he was talking about.

    Well, like the postman said to the FedEx guy, “Better late than never.”

    Subject to whatever happens to Haren last night, I’ve gotta think the really chances of overhauling either the Reds or the Pirates are at least 33 percent. (It helps, actually, that there are two teams, not one, with the potential to fold. I don’t think Hurdle is nearly as good as he is being sold. How did he get smart between Colorado and Pittsburgh?)

    But I wonder if all teams have the Nats’ self-destructive tendencies.

    Werth reminds me of Eric Davis. I hope he stretches it out and wins the batting title — certainly deserves it as much as Johnson — even if the team falls short.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Sep 11, 2013 at 9:50 AM

      “Whatever happens to Haren tonight,” not last.

    • jd - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:18 AM

      I think Pittsburgh pulled it together by winning 2 games in Texas, I don’t think they are folding. I think it’s just the Reds and the chances of them folding ala the Mets in 2008 are not very good, much less than 33%.

      At the same time until we catch someone or until we are eliminated I will be hoping and scoreboard watching like Bowdenball. It’s still a lot of fun.

      I think Davey can’t let Haren give this up in the 1st couple of innings. There are many arms around and you mix and match. Now is the time to manage a couple of wins.

  18. Theophilus T.S. - Sep 11, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    Ghost —

    Haren just has to pitch well. A “short leash” means only that the BP will be stressed, as we can assume that Roark will need them to finish at least the last three innings of his (remaining) starts. Counting Stammen they have only four reliable guys to throw out there.

  19. Whynat - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    I was bashing Soriano during his rough patch. With his more recent good performances he’s climbed back into the middle of the pack in the metric that counts, save conversions. 17 out of 30 in MLB with a 87% conversion rate.

  20. Section 222 - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    Early last year, one of the MASN talking heads mentioned that the 162-game baseball season can be divided into nine 18-game sets. This construct seemed interesting to me, particularly because it illustrates that the difference between an also-ran (72 wins) and a likely playoff team (90 wins) is just two losses that should or could have been wins in each set of 18 ((10-8)*9 = 90 vs. (8-10)*9 = 72). Looking at the Nats 2012 season in this way showed that the Nats lived off their hot 14-4 start for a few months, going 8-10, 10-8, and 10-8 in the next three sets. But then, beginning with their series in Colorado shortly before the ASG, they caught fire. They reeled off four straight sets of excellent baseball, going 11-7, 12-6, 12-6, and 12-6. Just before the of the eighth set, on September 12, 2012, they peaked at 35 games over .500 and 8.5 wins ahead of the Braves. They then coasted during the last three weeks of the season to a 9-9 finish in the last set, ending the season with 98 wins, 4 more than the Braves.

    This year, I have been under the impression that the Nats have been consistently mediocre all season long, hanging around .500 and never running off a long streak of wins or losses. But looking back at the 18-game sets tells a somewhat different story. In the first 8 sets of 18 games, which ended last night, the Nats went 10-8 four times and 9-9 once. And they finished the most recent set at 13-5, better than all but one of the 18 game sets last year. Amazingly, if they had just played .500 ball for the other two sets, winning 9 games in each, they’d have 80 wins already, and be right in the thick of the race for a Wild Card berth with the NL Central teams and maybe even within striking distance of the Braves.

    But they didn’t. Instead, they had two very bad stretches, and it’s in those stretches where the season was lost. The first bad set was in mid to late May when they went 7-11. That stretch started with a loss to the lowly Cubs at home (the day after the Strasburg Saturday afternoon blowup). Then the Nats went on their disastrous (4-6) West coast swing when Espi concealed his broken wrist and had 2 hits and 14 Ks in 32 PAs, Harper ran into the wall in LA, and Soriano blew a save in San Francisco that turned into Yunesky Maya’s last major league appearance and loss. We then returned home to win a series against the Phillies, but lost three of four games to the O’s in our home and home series against them. The Nats started that 18 game set with a record of 20-16, only a game behind the Braves. By the end, we were back to .500 at 27-27, 5 ½ games back.
    It’s probably fair to say that the Nats never really recovered from that first bad stretch, but we did go 9-9 and 10-8 in the next two sets. Even after two straight losses to the Phillies to end that fifth set of the season, we were still 2 games over .500 at 46-44 and only 6 games behind the Braves. And we were only 7 games off last year’s performance at that point of the season. In fact, if we played the last four sets at last year’s pace, we’d end up with 91 wins.

    But then we had our second really bad stretch of the season, going 6-12 in the next 18 games. This set started with a split of the last two games of the 4 game series against the Phillies. The Nats then went to Miami and lost a three game series there. In the first game, they staked Strasburg to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, only to have him walk four batters and give up 7 runs in his first two innings. In the next game, Haren pitched six shutout innings and Soren and Clipp held serve, but Soriano blew the 1-0 lead by giving up a game-tying leadoff bomb to Giancarlo Stanton and Chad Tracy started the 10th with a brutal error, leading to a walkoff loss. The Nats then returned from the All Star Break rested and hoping to make up ground, but instead they lost 6 of 7 games to the Dodgers and Pirates. Even a successful road series against the Mets, winning 3 of 4 games, couldn’t salvage the set, because they proceeded to go to Detroit and get crushed two nights in a row, with Strasburg again proving unable to deliver an ace-like performance.

    By the end of that sixth set, the Nats were four games under .500 at 52-56, 11 games behind the Braves, and 7.5 back in the WC race. Despite coming back to have another solid 10-8 set followed by the most recent very successful 13-5, the season was essentially over at the end of July. (Remember when some told us that it was silly to pay attention to the standings before August 1?) By the time the Braves had swept the series at Nats Park in early August, we were 15.5 games behind them, and 9 games out in the WC race.
    Of course, at any number of points during the season a long winning streak or even winning series consistently could have turned things around. But looking at these 18 game stretches seems a very useful way of determining where the season went awry, and why the recent run of good play is almost certainly too little, too late.

    So our last 18 game set begins tonight. Even if we match our best set of the season, 13-5, we’ll finish with just 88 wins. That would be an extraordinary accomplishment, but with half of the last 18 games coming against the Braves, Cards, and D-Backs, it seems a very tall order. And it probably still won’t be good enough to make the playoffs. We can thank the May and July cold spells for that.

  21. Section 222 - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    Not sure how this will translate when I hit post, but here is a chart that shows the Nats record in 18-game sets in 2012 and 2013:

    Set 2012 2013

    1-thru Game 18 4/25/12 14-4 14-4 4/21/13 10-8 10-8
    2-thru Game 36 5/15/12 8-10 22-14 5/11/13 10-8 20-16
    3-thru Game 54 6/6/12 10-8 32-22 5/30/13 7-11* 27-27
    4-thru Game 72 6/26/12 10-8 42-30 6/20/13 9-9 36-36
    5-thru Game 90 7/19/12 11-7 53-37 7/9/13 10-8 46-44
    6-thru Game 108 8/5/12 12-6 65-43 7/31/13 6-12** 52-56
    7-thru Game 126 8/25/12 12-6 77-49 8/21/13 10-8 62-64
    8-thru Game 144 9/14/12 12-6 89-55 9/10/13 13-5 75-69
    9-thru Game 162 10/3/12 9-9 98-64 9/29/13

    • adcwonk - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:51 AM

      Good work, 222. It reveals a lot, imho. For one thing: the Nats haven’t stunk all year, it just seems that way because we’ve been in 2d place so long and can’t make up any ground. And, yep, it appears that the entire season was sunk because of those two bad stretches.

  22. Another_Sam - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    Thanks,1a. Now my drivel can once again be properly attributed.

    • natsfan1a - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:48 AM

      You’re welcome, Sam.

      And welcome back, Whynat.

  23. tcostant - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    And in other news, my postseason ticket invoice came in th email yesterday. I’m LOL

  24. Sec 309 - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    All you need to know about why this season went wrong is this. Harp hit the wall and the wall won. The boy and the team ain’t been right since. Just now starting to come out of it.

    • Section 222 - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:02 AM

      Agreed Feel. The Wall that Ate Bryce in LA was on May 13, right at the beginning of that first bad set. His splits before he left the game were .303/.400/.622/1.022. And after that game, which the Nats won, they were 4 games over .500 and just two games behind the Braves. In the 67 games he has played since then, his line has been .261/.373/.448/.821. And the Nats, well, they have barely played .500 baseball.

  25. Section 222 - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    The Reds have 16 games left, as follows:

    vs. PGH — 6
    vs. HOU — 3
    vs. MIL — 3
    vs. NYM — 3
    vs. CHC — 1

    The Pirates have 18 left:

    vs. CIN – -6
    vs. CHC – 7
    vs. SDP — 4
    vs. TXR — 1

    The Cardinals have 18 left:

    vs. MIL — 5
    vs. COL — 4
    vs. WSN — 3
    vs. SEA — 3
    vs. CHC –3

    For one of these teams to collapse some pretty bad teams are going to have to play awfully well…

    • Section 222 - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:22 AM

      DP mentioned the 2007 season, when the Mets collapsed, going 6-12 in their last 18 games, while the Phillies went 13-5, and ended up winning the division on the last day of the season. (They then went on to lose three straight games in the NLDS to the even hotter Rockies.)

      The Nats played their last 13 games of the season that year against those two teams. Those games basically decided that race, with the Nats winning 5 of 6 against the Mets, but only 2 of 7 against the Phils. Looks like the Cubs or Brewers could play kingmaker this season. Maybe not for the WC but certainly for the Central Division race.

  26. adcwonk - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Most fans dream only that there are “meaningful games in September.” (And it ought to be even more so around here, since for decades we were wishing for *any* games in September).

    So, we got ‘em: meaningful games in September.

    Go get ‘em, Nats!

  27. jd - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    222,

    Interesting analysis. I was going to look at something like that but I have a policy of avoiding autopsies while the patient is still breathing.

    II am not giving you a hard time. It’s just a superstition with me I guess. In reality I have very little realistic hope for the playoffs because I think I think the Reds aren’t likely to fold their tents. But I will keep hoping.

  28. langleyclub - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    Baseball Prospectus has the Nats playoff chances at 1.6%. While I think the Nats chances are slightly better than that, their chances are far less than 33%.

  29. Jw - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    In 2007 when the Phillies won because the Mets collapsed, that collapse was facilitated by a pretty bad team playing awfully well. Which pretty bad team was that? The Nats.

    • Section 222 - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      Awfully well against the Mets, not so well against the Phillies. See my comment above at 11:22 am.

  30. Theophilus T.S. - Sep 11, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    Langley — you people who place your faith in these stat services miss the point almost every time. There are, essentially, three things that can happen: (1) neither Reds nor Pirates will collapse, Nats SOL; (2) Reds or Pirates collapse, Nats sneak in; (3) Nats don’t sustain it. “Collapse” doesn’t mean somebody loses 14 in a row, it just means they only win 7-8 games the rest of the way out. These are independent events. Computer doesn’t measure the throbbing artery in the brain that blows under pressure. Looking at both teams I see the possibility that one of them will go bust, Reds because they’ve just lost three (?) in a row to the Cubs, Pirates because they haven’t been in the playoffs for 20 seasons and I don’t have a lot of regard for either their rotation or their manager. I think there’s a very good chance one of them goes 7-11 the rest of the way out. Hence my (optimistic) estimate there is a 1-in-3 chance for each of my scenarios.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 11, 2013 at 1:08 PM

      A fair summary, Theo. Or you could say it’s 50-50: either they will, or they won’t.

      I remember hearing a radio DJ, giving the weather, saying “There’s a 20% chance of rain today. (Pause) Well, it’s raining here; that must mean in four other places, it’s not raining.”

  31. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 11, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    Never tell me the odds.

  32. nats106 - Sep 11, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    No help from the Cubbies today, but more than I expected with 2 W’s.

    I just want to go to the last 4 home games against the Marlins knowing we still have an outside chance of taking that playoff spot.

    If we beat Wheeler tonight (he’s due for a bad game) and Span ups his hit streak, the Nats will finish the season 22-0, Span will close out the regular season with a 39 game hitting streak and the Nats will earn a wild card berth.

    If Wheeler beats us, we finish the season 17-0, Span still hits in 39 straight and we still get in.

    How’s that for misguided confidence?

    You read it here first (if anybody reads this)

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