It’s early, but 10-game road trip provides Nats test of endurance

It is still only April, but in any month this upcoming road trip would be a tough one.

It’s a 10-game, 11-day trip through Atlanta, New York and Denver.

The Braves (5-6, winners of four straight) have a young team riding the emotion of opening a brand new baseball stadium they are proud to show the world.

The Mets (7-6, losers of three straight) look to repeat their 2015 run to the World Series as the Nationals’ toughest division rival.

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The Rockies (9-5, winners of two straight) have proven their high-octane offense is built for their mile high venue, and it’s a chance for Ian Desmond to reunite with his former team for the first time since he left in 2015.

The road trip includes a rough Sunday-Monday next week where the Nationals go east to west overnight. This is compounded by the Sunday game being a nationally televised game in New York that begins at 8 p.m. followed by a two-time zone four-hour flight to Colorado for a game Monday night that has first pitch schedule for 6:40 p.m. locally the next day.

Left fielder Jayson Werth said that is why the walk-off win over the Phillies 6-4 yesterday becomes that much more important.

“Yeah, it’s always good to hop on the plane when you won a game versus lose a game but we got a tough road trip,” Werth said. “We’re going to play a Sunday night game and then fly all the way to Colorado and no day off. Our schedule’s tough coming up so this is a good home stand to kick off the road trip for sure.”

It is interesting a player stands up and recognizes the quirky schedule. It is something we have talked about for a couple of weeks.

The other interesting twist to this road trip is after the team plays 10 games in a row, including four straight Monday-Thursday in Denver, they return home and take on their arch rival Mets at home yet again Friday night April 28.

Their next off day doesn’t arrive until May 1.

“I think this was our first getaway (win) day of the year,” Baker said. “Much needed off day for our bullpen and then we got a very, very tough road trip with the teams that we’re playing, different time zones. Getting in late. I think we’re getting into New York, barring any rain delays, at 2:30. Heck, who knows. 3:30, 4 o’clock into Colorado. I’m just hoping and praying we don’t get any rain delays. You’ll see different lineups because I’m just trying to keep guys fresh.”

Sunday’s hero Bryce Harper realizes the implications of this win with a big road trip arriving Tuesday in Georgia.

“Yeah we got a tough roadie coming up,” Harper said. “New ballpark there in Atlanta and then off to New York, then Colorado of course is going to be tough. Got a terrible schedule, MLB did a great job for us, so really excited about that. But I’m excited to get going. Got to take it one game at a time, but like you said it’s going to be tough and we’re looking forward to it.”

There it is. You can’t look at it as a whole. We hear that a lot this time of year in the NHL and NBA playoffs: can’t win four before you win one.

“It is kind of an interestingly designed road trip, but I don’t make those decisions,” said outfielder Chris Heisey, who walked to begin Sunday’s dramatic rally for the win. “Just try to win ballgames, and hopefully we’ll be able to give some guys days off and us bench guys can get a start here and there to keep everybody fresh. Some of the scheduling, like late games before traveling, are tough. It’s a lot of times good for a bench guy. You get a couple extra starts on a trip like that.”

It is early, but if the Nationals can go at least 5-5 on this trip, that would be a very good way to finish up the first month of the new season.

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