Sep 18, 2013, 1:02 AM EDT
The Nationals entered Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves with a unique range of potential outcomes.
Anytime you play two against a team in one day it’s possible to double up or come away with two quick defeats. But in this particular case, two losses would mean a NL East division crown for the Braves. Atlanta would clinch the division and overtake the defending champs right before their very eyes.
That possibility was something the Nats had considered, and they were determined to prevent it from happening.
“We definitely didn’t want to see that,” Denard Span said. “We didn’t want to see them jumping around on our field. They can do that somewhere else, not here in Washington.”
On a day that began with players reflecting on Monday’s tragic events at the nearby Navy Yard – and that saw them wear special U.S. Navy ballcaps during batting practice – the Nats took the field hoping to help those in Washington with a positive distraction.
They ended the day taking two from the Braves, their 80th and 81st wins of the season. The latter made sure 2013 would be, at the very least, equal to their second best year since moving to Washington, D.C.
Both wins, however, also brought their doubts along the way, especially their 6-5 victory in the 1:05 p.m. start.
The Nationals stormed out to an early lead with three quick runs off Braves’ lefty Mike Minor in the first inning. They saw Dan Haren escape a few scares and give them six innings of one-run ball. But then their lineup went ice cold – 18 straight batters retired at one point – and their bullpen lost its grip on the game.
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