The Nationals needed this one. After five difficult losses, John Lannan and Sean Burnett rode some early offense to a 4-2 victory over Arizona. With the Braves and Phillies waiting on the road, this was exactly what the Nats needed to separate themselves from years past.
Friday's win was the 50th of the season for the Nats and now the team is just nine wins away from last year's total of 59. With 47 games remaining, if the Nats can go 25-21, just a little bit above .500 the rest of the way, they could finish with 75 wins. That would be a significant step for this team after a pair of miserable last place finishes.
Outfielder Michael Morse said, "We had a bad series with the Marlins. Our biggest thing we try to do as a team is just keep going, keep looking up, keep looking positive. We have come this far and we can't look back. We are going to keep pressing on the gas. To start a series like this is a big inspiration for all of us."
With the team grabbing Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in those two drafts, the Nats are well on their way to building the blocks of a playoff team in the next few years.
It is crucial to get Harper signed by Monday at midnight, and their are positive signs that will occur.
Pitching coordinator Spin Williams says he would also like to work with 2010 draftees like Sammy Solis and A.J. Cole. It would be a good thing to fortify this draft if the Nats can get them signed like the Drew Storen's of 2010.
Other teams and their management are noticing how the Nats are stockpiling pitching talent which will help them fill holes in their lineup via trade now and in the offseason.
66 losses is no fun, of course, but 50 feels good on August 13, with plenty of games remaining before October 2 to make that total look even better for 2011.