Rachel Levitin: Time to light a fire under Nationals

Every weekend from April through the end of July, I play softball in a co-ed league in Glover Park, and every weekend between those months, the Nationals comes up in conversation. It's the usual fare of "Were you at that game?" or "Did you see that play?" But last weekend, my first base coach shared a thought with me that I hadn't considered yet this season: The Nationals aren't getting angry enough about the fact that they're on a legitimate skid right now.

After wasting yet another quality Stephen Strasburg start on Wednesday night when they lost 4-2 to the Pirates, I couldn't help but think about what my first base coach said. It's not that the Nationals should go all Carlos Zambrano on each and every play and let their emotions get the best of them, but for a team with such high expectations bestowed upon them after 2012, it doesn't seem to me that this squad is fired up enough having just lost a season-high sixth consecutive game.

Now granted, I'm not in the clubhouse with the guys before or after the game, nor am I claiming to know what goes on behind closed doors. I don't have access to that kind of information, so I'll leave those pieces of the story to those who do have the ability to ask the players those types of questions. What I'm getting at here is that I'd like to see a little more grit displayed on the field during these trying times.

Game after game, it feels like more of the same from the Nats even with manager Davey Johnson trying to switch things up with lineup changes or giving his regular guys a day off here and there. They're stranding baserunners, barely hitting and not taking advantage of a quality rotation.

I don't care how he does it, but Johnson, or even someone else on the coaching staff, needs to find a way to get under these players' skins and get them to fight for wins one inning at a time. It seems a little old school and maybe Little League to say, but that's what works for my softball team on Sundays. We play to win one inning at a time. Maybe that'll work?

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC, and will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation's capital as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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