Before the Nationals’ run of 10 straight wins, which started on Aug. 12 and lasted until Aug. 22, the longest winning streak this season came over a five-game stretch between June 28 and July 2, when the Nats beat the Chicago Cubs in both games of a doubleheader in Wrigley Field and took three straight from the Colorado Rockies on the road in Coors Field.
The Nationals set a new season high of six straight with the second of back-to-back walk-off wins over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug 17.
Asked what the stretch of wins and comebacks, which would continue the next night with a third straight walk-off win in the series opener with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who lost three of four games in D.C. in the final at bat, taught him about his team, Nats skipper Matt Williams said he was impressed with their ability to keep coming back.
“Just that they don’t quit,” Williams told reporters in the Nation’s Capital. “They don’t quit fighting. We’ve got a lot of tenacity in there, so that’s a good sign, a very good sign. We’ve been in that situation this year, so it’s not something that’s new. It’s not where we want to be, but if you have to come back in a game then you have to come back.”
The Nationals won their seventh game in a row, and their third straight via a walk-off hit on Aug. 18, but Williams refused to attach any significance to the win, which gave Washington a six-game lead in the National League East, when he was asked what it meant to the Nats.
“Nothing,” Williams said. “Other than we have to play well again tomorrow. The good thing about these guys is that they don’t look too far ahead, they don’t look too far behind, either. So the game is presented to them on an everyday basis. They do what they can to win, and we’ll forget about this one and get ready for tomorrow.”
Doug Fister echoed his manager’s sentiments when the Nationals’ winning streak finally came to an end in a 10-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
As the 30-year-old, six-year veteran explained, neither he nor any of his teammates spent all that much time thinking about the win streak or the loss that ended it.
“We don’t have time to do that,” Fister told reporters. “We’ve got to come back tomorrow ready to play and start a new one. We don’t look at it as streaks, we look at is as day-by-day, and there’s 162 games that we have to come out and be ready to play. Tomorrow is a new one.”
Williams allowed himself a moment of reflection after the 10-game win streak ended, but it didn’t last even the length of a sentence before he returned to the overriding approach.
“Those don’t come around very often,” Williams said. “It’s pretty rare to see 10 in a row. ... but we’ve got to get back to work tomorrow and see if we can start another one.”
“It’s one of those games,” he said of the loss. “You play so many of them that, we’ve talked about during the ten games not getting too high or too low. It’s the same tonight.”
After the Nationals dropped the third game of three in Citizens Bank Park and their fourth game in the last six in the series finale with the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, Williams said the same thing he did throughout the winning streak.
“It’s the same approach that we’ll always take,” the first-year skipper said. “Win, lose, good, bad or indifferent. Today is over with and there’s nothing we can do about it now other than look forward to the next one. So we’ve got a long flight and off day, the guys can go get some and we’ll see if we can go get the Mariners on Friday.”
The 75-57 Nationals flew from Philadelphia to Seattle to start a three-game set with the 72-60 Mariners. After that they play three with the 76-58 Los Angeles Dodgers in L.A.
The Nats built their lead in the NL East with wins over the New York Mets, Andrew McCutchen-less Pirates and depleted D-Backs. Now they face two tough teams out west.
Williams was asked if he thought the two series would be a good test of what the Nationals could against teams with winning records and post season aspirations.
“We don’t think that way,” he explained. “We never, ever think that way. We know that if we do things correctly, then we have a chance to beat the other team on any given night. And that’s how we approach it every day, regardless of if we have a winning streak or if we’ve lost three in a row, doesn’t matter, it’s the same approach.”
Patrick Reddington blogs about the Nationals for Federal Baseball and appears here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. Follow him on Twitter: @federalbaseball. 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.