The Washington Nationals took the NL East crown in 2012. Many thought more was to come from the team that was brought to the Nation's capital in 2005. After never finishing above the .500 mark, the Nats (their nickname) brought home their first NL East crown in the team's short history. They lost the NLDS 3-2, but were able to celebrate playoff baseball in the city of Washington D.C. It was thought that the Nationals would take home the World Series trophy this season, and that they would continue to get better, as they built a powerhouse in the NL East, much like the rival Philadelphia Phillies did from 2007 to 2012.
This season, the plane crashed. After flying very high last season, the Nationals just can't win on a consistent basis this season, forcing them to be only two games over .500, with a record of 69-67. Believe it or not, the Nationals are still in contention, mostly due to the second wild card. The Cincinnati Reds, currently occupying that spot, have a record of 76-61. This means that the Nationals are only 6 1/2 games out of the playoffs. And, with 26 games to play, anything is possible.
With a POFF (chance of making the playoffs) of 5%, the Nationals season seems to be nothing more then a one and done. But, they've won 7 of their last 10 games, and are playing an easy schedule throughout the rest of the season. And, don't even get me started on their star studded lineup. Which brings me to last night's game, against the New York Mets.
After losing two straight games against the Mets to begin the series, the Nationals postseason chances seemed bleaker and bleaker heading into Sunday. But, during the afternoon, the Reds took a defeat from the Rockies, 7-4. All the Nationals needed to do was beat the Mets, and they would be only 6 1/2 games out of the Wild Card, definitely within striking distance to reach the Wild Card spot.
By the middle of the second inning, the club from Washington was down 3-0 early. But, after a run scored in the bottom of the second, and the fourth, the Nats had made it a 3-2 game. But, their faulty pitching last night allowed the Mets to put up two more runs, and make it a 5-2 game.
Then the 8th inning began. After a scoreless top half by Erik Davis, the Nationals took their bats, for what looked to be their second to last at bat of the game. It turned out to be the last. 3 runs scored in the inning, powered by Jayson Werth's go-ahead double, to put the Nats on top 6-5. And, that's how it finished.
Was this game the turning point to the Nationals season? I think yes. When a team gets hot in September, the sense of urgency, and the chance to play in the playoffs can really spark a team. Don't look now, but I think the Nationals could scamper right into the playoff race. Next they get the Phillies for three games, with Stephen Strasburg taking the hill on Labor Day. Each game slowly becomes a must-win, and each game could get the Nationals closer to the playoffs.