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A dominating win, then a surprise in Milwaukee

Sep 15, 2013, 7:07 PM EDT

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Denard Span was answering a question about his 26-game hitting streak when the first roar came from another corner of the Nationals’ clubhouse. Span looked around as asked what happened, then was informed Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez had just robbed a home run from the Reds’ Jay Bruce in the top of the ninth inning at Miller Park.

“OK,” Span said. “That’s good for us.”

Not as good as what happened a couple of minutes later as Bryce Harper was answering a question about the Nationals’ just-completed, 11-2 thumping of the Phillies and was interrupted by another roar from teammates who were watching Milwaukee’s Sean Halton launch a walk-off homer against ex-Nationals lefty Zach Duke, officially handing Cincinnati a crushing loss.

“So, that’s good, too,” Harper said with a smile.

The Nationals have known all along they would need to win a bunch of games down the stretch to have any chance of making a last-ditch charge into the postseason, but they also have known they’ll need somebody else — at this point, the Reds — to lose a bunch of games as well.

The Nationals have been holding up their end of the bargain, winning 25 of their last 35, including 14 of 19 during their now-completed stretch against the NL East’s bottom three clubs. And the Reds are trying their darndest to at least make this thing interesting right down to the wire, losing four of their last six games, capped by Sunday’s shocker in Milwaukee.

Yes, the deficit is down to 4 1/2 games with 13 to play. It’s still improbable, but it’s not impossible.

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  1. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 15, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    If this is going to happen, Cin. is going to have to lose games like this.

    • coollikelivo - Sep 15, 2013 at 7:19 PM

      Reds are feeling the pressure!!!

    • natsfan1a - Sep 15, 2013 at 9:09 PM

      I like what you did there. Carry on. :-)

  2. Joe Seamhead - Sep 15, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    We can do this!

    BTW, I really am finding this new format to be very clumsy, I seem to have to do the secret handshake log in almost daily even though I checked “remember me.” When I’m scrolling on my iPad I inadvertently hit “report comment” with my thumb.. At least one other regular expressed the same problem. [It would be nice if you at least had to double click it]. Long blogs are tedious to follow. There are other issues, and it is what it is, but I wanted to say that after the couple of weeks since the change, I have grown to like it less, not more.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 15, 2013 at 7:37 PM

      But didn’t NatsInsider switching to this new format more-or-less coincide with the Nats’ resurgence? Coincidence?

  3. David Proctor - Sep 15, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    Posting from the other thread:

    Brandon Phillips just tweeted:

    @DatDudeBP: #WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t drink but PLEASE, somebody take a #ShotForMe! Thanks

    Think they’re feeling the pressure?

  4. nats128 - Sep 15, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    Just got back from DC as we stayed down there for dinner. Very excited to read that the Reds blew a big lead.

    If Houston can somehow beat the Reds for 2 games this will be real interesting.

  5. Eugene in Oregon - Sep 15, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    On Thursday evening or Friday morning, with the Nats 5.5 back, I wrote that the Nats and the Reds both had five series left and the Nats essentially (i.e., on average) needed to make up one game during each series. (The half game would have to be made up against the Marlins in that four-game series.)

    So, they’ve done that — picked up a game — during the first series (although it would have been nice to get that extra game, but alas…). Now comes a tough one — the Reds get to play the Astros, but the Nats have to play the Braves. We’ll all obsess over each game (each inning? each at-bat?), but what probably makes the most sense is to reevaluate after all six of those games have been played.

    Hoping against hope that it will be a positive reevaluation. GYNFG!

    • David Proctor - Sep 15, 2013 at 7:51 PM

      I don’t expect to gain any ground in this next series, but I think it’s likely we gain several games when they play the Pirates. If the Astros can sneak out a game or two, all the better.

  6. Baseballswami - Sep 15, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    Above all I DO NOT want the Barves to clinch here. Their fans have become the worst in MLB. I also have a malicious urge for the Nats to just pimp everything, showboat, admire and just make them suck on it in the last game vs them. So tired of their self righteous baseball police attitude. I will root for absolutely ANY team that faces them in the postseason.

    • nats128 - Sep 15, 2013 at 8:07 PM

      +1

    • David Proctor - Sep 15, 2013 at 8:20 PM

      I hate our chances on Wednesday, with Ohlendorf starting. Ohlendorf has been leaving EVERYTHING up. Against the Phillies, you might be able to get away with that. Not against the Braves. So that means we have to win tomorrow and Tuesday with Haren and Roark.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 15, 2013 at 8:28 PM

        Davey said Strasburg was leaning on him heavy to pitch that game.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 15, 2013 at 8:31 PM

        I got the impression, reading between the lines, that if they split the first two games, Davey might let him go out there, but if the Nats or Braves win the first two, then he’d be more inclined to hold SS back a little.

  7. karlkolchak - Sep 15, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    The best part about today was finally getting real payback on the Phithies for the fan invasions and beat downs from back in the bad old days. Even last year, the Nats were only 9-9 against them and had a negative run differential. This year they not only topped them 11-8, but even better outscored them 94-56. That’s one Nats’ demon that has at last been truly exorcised.

  8. Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 15, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    Normally, I advise playing them one game at a time, and indeed, there’s really no choice, but in this case, they have to take at least 2 out of the next three.

    Does anybody know a cheese shop that makes overnight deliveries to the visitors locker room? I’m thinking the Limburger & Durian platter might be good.

  9. nats6245 - Sep 15, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    I noticed that the promo on Wednesday is a pair of headphones. That’s brilliant — they can be used to ignore any noises the Braves and their fans may choose to make.

  10. MicheleS - Sep 15, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    WOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOO!! I am so excited! Game was great today. Tried to stay for the Wounded Warriors game, but couldn’t stay that late (kids run the bases went LOOOOOONGG).

  11. Another_Sam - Sep 15, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    JoeSeam – I’m having a bit of a hard time with the mechanics of the new HMI as well. BTW I liked your post on the instant analysis thread.

    The new interface has so far reduced my posting but perhaps others see that as a benefit. Haha.

  12. Joe Seamhead - Sep 15, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    For those that didn’t see Carlos Gomez’ great, game saving catch, and also a fine throw to get Brandon Phillips at 3rd,. BTW the throw to 3rd from CF is a perfect example of how to crow-hop when making a throw from the OF, which is the way to get the most on your throw:

    http://wapc.mlb.com/play/?topic_id=11493214&content_id=30650553

    • nats128 - Sep 15, 2013 at 9:43 PM

      Someone wrote recently that while Span is good, Gomez is great and deserves the Gold Glove.

  13. Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 15, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    The Wilson Ramos stats after today are truly amazing. Forget about the 23 straight starts at catcher, the Nats are now 42-25 in Ramos starts which would be 102 win pace over a full season.

    He is batting a team best .329 BA with RISP and .314 with 2 outs and RISP.

    Ramos if healthy and playing full-time can be the dominant offensive catcher. You could see 30 HRs and 120 RBIs.

    • nats128 - Sep 15, 2013 at 9:46 PM

      Who knew it. I guess you did.

      All those people that ragged on Ramos for dropping a ball thrown from the outfield have all now gone hiding. Those same people wanted Suzuki over Ramos. They arent even near each other in team value. While Suzuki makes a great backup, his salary makes him cost prohibitive.

  14. natsguy - Sep 15, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    The big problem the Nats face is not the Games Behind its the ELIMANATION number which currently stands at 9. For instance if the Reds go 5 and 7 and the Nats go 9 and 4, the Reds win. The E number gets worse for every Reds win and every Nats loss. Thats why as of right now the Nats are pretty much forced to win every game It might happen but the odds against are really high.

    Thats why they play the game. Start watching the E number. Until it gets to a number equal to the number of games left there is a problem, not enough season left.

  15. knoxvillenat - Sep 15, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    Swami said,

    “Above all I DO NOT want the Barves to clinch here. Their fans have become the worst in MLB. I also have a malicious urge for the Nats to just pimp everything, showboat, admire and just make them suck on it in the last game vs them. So tired of their self righteous baseball police attitude. I will root for absolutely ANY team that faces them in the postseason.”

    Swami, I appreciate where you are coming from but I would rather we just win, three hopefully, and let the Braves think about who they prefer to see in the playoffs. If by chance Ramos or Harper or someone else hits a HR, run the bases like you expected it, leave the pimping thing to Justin and B.J., and if in fact they showboat knock them on their butt the next time they come up.

  16. natsguy - Sep 15, 2013 at 9:26 PM

    By the way Mark the new posting system really sucks. I think thats why so many people have dropped off.

    I dropped off because the season was becoming about getting statistics in garbage(September) time.

  17. natsguy - Sep 15, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    The other thing Mark is its blocked at work. Bummer. Doesn’t speak highly of its integrity when it gets blocked by a firewall.

    • nats128 - Sep 15, 2013 at 9:34 PM

      I have the same problem and cant check the site from my office. Thought that was strange.

  18. natsguy - Sep 15, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    Actually my only goals are:

    1: JZim gets 20.
    2. They win 90 games
    3. They sweep the Braves.
    4. Ramos and Harper both get to 20 HR’s.

    I would be content. Too bad the last two years weren’t switched. I would be ecstatic.

    • nats128 - Sep 15, 2013 at 9:40 PM

      1. Certainly doable with 2 more starts and a possible appearance out of the bullpen in the Arizona series.
      2. Thats the goal I would think
      3. Sure, why not. Its overdue
      4. Ramos needs a big power surge in the next 13 games and would need 5 more HRs, doable but tough. Harper needs 1 more HR and should join the 20 HR club.

  19. adcwonk - Sep 15, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    Manassas Nats Fan – Sep 15, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    Where are our friends who guarenteed us 4th place?

    Hanging out with the other guys who insisted that: Werth was just an expensive bench player, Rendon would never play 2d, and Span=Nyjer ?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 15, 2013 at 9:51 PM

      Wonk, so true. The same people that said Rendon had glass ankles, Span was a banjo hitter, and Werth was worthless.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 15, 2013 at 10:08 PM

      Thankfully, they haven’t come on the new board… Lets not bring them up…

    • Sonny G 10 - Sep 15, 2013 at 10:10 PM

      Sounds like reverse locks to me! :)

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Sep 15, 2013 at 10:22 PM

        The reverse lock was when he said Espinosa was the best athlete on the team and shortly afterward he was demoted.

  20. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 15, 2013 at 10:09 PM

    I followed the game on MLB.com… Amazing job Nats… And I dropped my damn drink when I saw the Reds loss….

    I refuse to give up.. Love some meaningful Spetember games… Here’s to hoping to seeing meaningful October games as well….

  21. Sonny G 10 - Sep 15, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    This is the kind of team I wanted; relative to the very end. GYFNG!!!

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 15, 2013 at 10:43 PM

      I’m glad they’re relevant, too.

    • Sonny G 10 - Sep 15, 2013 at 11:26 PM

      Yes, I mean relevant. Thanks Sofa.

  22. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 15, 2013 at 10:27 PM

    how come no one is talking about Harper’s throws? I am surprised Phillies were so daring to test his arm. 3 times in 2 days, they would try to stretch that into a double? come on!

    • nats128 - Sep 15, 2013 at 10:31 PM

      It was discussed alot yesterday.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 15, 2013 at 10:33 PM

        oh ok. I missed that.

    • ArVAFan - Sep 15, 2013 at 10:33 PM

      Maybe other teams (Atlanta, for instance) will learn the hard way that it is not a good idea to try an extra base on Harper (or, apparently, Carlos Gomez, either).

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