Injury-plagued Nats have struggled, while other teams battling DL have flourished

The Nationals have injuries, but several teams have made the injury excuse obsolete this season.

The Cardinals have the best record in baseball, even though they have four starters - Jake Westbrook, Chris Carpenter, John Gast and Jamie Garcia - on their disabled list, as well closer Jason Motte and shortstop/leadoff batter Rafael Furcal.

The Yankees are contending the American League East even though they have two shortstops - Derek Jeter and Eduardo Nunez - on the disabled list. Their DL also includes Curtis Granderson (twice), Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Francisco Cervelli and two starters, Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda.

In the AL West, the Rangers are winning even though the right side of their infield - Ian Kinsler and Mitch Moreland - is injured, as well as three starters, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando. And, the Braves at times this season have been without Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Brian McCann and three relief pitchers, Eric O’Flaherty, Jonny Venters and Jordan Walden.

Going into Tuesday night, the Nationals are 31-31 with 100 games left. If they go 60-40, they’ll have 91 wins, and you wonder if that will be enough to make the postseason. All they have to do is go 6-4 every 10 games.

* Angels closer Ernesto Frieri grew up in a baseball-loving family in soccer-loving Columbia, but he decided he wanted to be a pro baseball player when, at 12, he watched the Marlins’ Edger Renteria get the game-winning in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series versus Cleveland.

* What a week for the Dodgers new energizer, Yasiel Puig. He’s hit leadoff and cleanup. He’s got 16 hits in his first eight games. He has six multi-hit games and three three-hit games. He’s got a couple of assists in the outfield and he was the National League Player of the Week. The question in L.A.: Can the excitement created by Puig be compared to Fernando Valenzuela, Manny Ramirez and Hideo Nomo?

* The Pirates’ top pitching prospect, Gerrit Cole, the top pick in 2011 draft, will start tonight’s game against the Giants. Despite a fastball in the high 90s, Cole is striking out 6.2 batters per nine innings in the minor leagues. Cole joins lefty Jeff Locke as the second rookie at the back of the rotation led by A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and Francisco Liriano.

* Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven, a TV analyst for the Twins, pitched his first big-league game in D.C. against the Senators at RFK on June 5, 1970. He was 19 and gave up a leadoff home run to Lee Maye. Afterward, he called his dad, Joe, a Dodgers fan in southern California who asked his son how he did against Frank Howard. When Blyleven told him that Howard, a former Dodger, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout, “My dad hung up on me. Frank Howard was one of his favorite players.’‘

* Former Nats pitcher Jason Marquis helped the Padres beat the Braves in San Diego Monday night, almost 13 years to the day that he made his big league debut for Braves on June 6, 2000.

* The Royals have a six-game winning streak after beating Detroit 3-2 Monday night, their longest winning streak since September 2011. The Royals won seven of their first 10 games since Hall of Famer George Brett became their batting coach. And although they’ve scored at least four runs in five of those first 10 games, the Royals are winning because of pitching. The Royals have the lowest ERA in the league, but they can’t hit. Starter James Shields’ stats - he’s 2-6 with a 2.81 ERA - is a snapshot of the Royals’ season.

* The Phillies’ Dominic Brown is leading the National League in home runs, but they aren’t exactly big-time distances. Of his first 19 home runs, only two were measured at more than 400 feet. He’s averaged 387.5 feet per home run. The major league average is 397 feet.

* Tigers DH Victor Martinez, is starting to hit. And center fielder Austin Jackson, their leadoff batter, is about to start a rehabilitation assignment after being on the disabled list since May 12 with a hamstring injury. The rotation has been stringing together starts of at least six-plus innings. Looks like the Tigers are starting to take control of the AL Central.

* On Saturday, the Marlins beat the Mets 2-1 in 20 innings and the Blue Jays beat the Rangers 4-3 in 18 innings. It was the second time in big league history that two games of at least 18 innings have been played. The last time it happened was Aug. 15, 1986, when the Diamondbacks beat the Rockies 2-1 and the Cubs beat the Astros 8-6. The connection is outfielder Juan Pierre, who went 1-for-6 as the Cubs’ leadoff batter in 2006 and 1-for-5 as the Marlins’ leadoff hitter Saturday.