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State of the Nats: Braves come to town

Sep 17, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Top storylines:

Braves come to town – Winners of eight of their last nine, the Nationals now welcome the big, bad Braves to Washington for their final series of the season. The Braves have had their way with the Nats this year, going 12-4 up until this point in the season series. It should be the toughest opponent the Nats have faced since they last saw Atlanta Aug. 16-18 at Turner Field. What will make this time around more interesting, however, is the possibility the Braves can clinch on the Nats’ home field. If Atlanta wins two of three then they will secure the NL East division crown and enjoy a celebration at Nats Park. That’s obviously something the Nats would like to avoid. They were able to clinch the division last season in front of the Philadelphia Phillies and have no intention of finding out what that feels like.

Two weeks left to chase Reds – The Nats enter the day five games behind the Reds in the NL Wild Card race, as Cincinnati beat the Astros 6-1 on Monday night. These next few days may be tough for the Nats to gain ground on Cincy as they take on the Braves who have the best record in the National League. Meanwhile, the Reds get to beat up on the worst team in the majors. Not only is Houston terrible, they are also banged up as catcher Jason Castro is out with no timetable for a return. He’s one of the few young talents they have to build around. On top of that, promising young pitcher Jarred Cosart was recently shut down due to a team-imposed innings limit. Those are two of the Astros’ best players and neither are available to battle the Reds.

Stephen Strasburg’s recovery – When the words ‘forearm tightness’ were mentioned in the same sentence with Stephen Strasburg’s name, it surely put a scare in many who follow the Washington Nationals, not to mention those on the team itself. But after throwing on Sunday, Strasburg is still on track to return on Sept. 19. He won’t be available for the Braves series, much to the chagrin of Davey Johnson, but just getting him back for two or three more starts this season will be a great help for the Nats’ playoff hopes. Strasburg has been their best starting pitcher this year when healthy and, at the very least, wants to finish the year strong. He won’t hit the 200 innings mark he set out to conquer, but Strasburg can still put together 180-plus and maybe even get a chance to pitch in the postseason for the first time.

Denard Span’s hit streak – Span’s streak is still alive at 26 games and he needs just one more to tie this year’s record held by Michael Cuddyer of the Colorado Rockies. Through Span’s hit streak he is batting .387 with 43 total hits, providing the perfect leadoff man for the Nationals’ lineup. 30 is the Nationals’ record held by Ryan Zimmerman, but check out this list of the five longest hit streaks in Washington/Expos baseball history:

1. Gene DeMontreville – 36 games – Senators – 1896-97 (10th all time in MLB)
2. Heinie Manush – 33 games – Senators – 1933 (19th all time)
3. Sam Rice – 31 games – Senators – 1924 – (24th all time)
4. Vladimir Guerrero – 31 games – Expos – 1999 (T24th all time)
5. Ryan Zimmerman – 30 games – Nationals – 2009 – (31st all time)

NL East Standings

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NL Wild Card Standings

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Offensive game of the week: Wilson Ramos 9/15 vs. Phillies – 4 for 4, HR, 2 R, 5 RBI

Pitching game of the week: Gio Gonzalez 9/9 at Mets – 9 IP, 0 ER, H, 2 BB, 8 SO, 110 pitches, 79 strikes

Quote of the week:

Davey Johnson on the big series against the Braves:

The difference really in the year is we didn’t hold our own with Atlanta. We played them a lot of close games, but we didn’t hold our own with them. We need to at least send a message to them these next three days that we’re better than them… I always believed we’re better than them.

Tweet of the week:

Road ahead

MON – PPD
TUE – 1:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves (Haren), 7:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves (Roark)
WED – 7:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves (Ohlendorf)
THUR – 7:05 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (Strasburg)
FRI – 7:05 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (Gonzalez)
SAT – 7:05 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (Zimmermann)
SUN – 1:35 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (Haren)

  1. Doc - Sep 17, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    Stras wants to pitch on his regular routine tomorrow, so we have to assume that he’s OK.

    Let him pitch and see how it goes. I doubt that one more day is going to make any difference (Wed. vs. Thurs.), particularly if he says he’s feeling OK.

    This is a pennant race for the wild card, the last time I checked.

  2. naterialguy - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    Anyone going to this afternoons game?

  3. natsfan1a - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    Nope, gotta catch up with some work.

  4. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    SS gives us better chance against ATL than Ohlie, I would think.

    • Jw - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:08 AM

      Stras has never been good vs the Braves. Here or there.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:57 AM

        I will need to look at his numbers but besides Uggla and to some extent Heyward, not any Atlanta hitters have given SS any trouble.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:07 PM

        Baseball-reference is not working for me currently.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 92 64 --
ATLANTA 76 81 16.5
NEW YORK 76 81 16.5
MIAMI 75 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 86 21.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Tuesday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (2) 92 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 68 3.5
y-ST. LOUIS 88 69 4.5
-------------------------
y-PITTSBURGH 86 71 --
SAN FRANCISCO 85 71 0.5
MILWAUKEE 80 77 6.0
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Tuesday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
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)
MON: OFF
TUE: OFF
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

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.

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