PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals will go for the sweep of the Phillies tonight when Edwin Jackson opposes Cole Hamels, but even before tonight’s game, Washington has already locked up another series win, its 10th of the season.
Of those 10 series wins, six have come on the road. How much better is this Nats team on the road than the 2011 version?
Last season, the Nats didn’t earn their sixth road series win until Sept. 12-14 when they swept the Mets.
With last night’s win, the Nats matched the longest winning streak posted by a visiting team at Citizens Bank Park since the stadium opened in 2004. Only the Astros (August 2004-September 2005) and the Marlins (May 2010-October 2010) have also put up six-game winning streaks in Philadelphia over the last nine seasons.
The Nationals have now won nine of their last 10 games against the Phillies, including four of five this season. It’s evident that the Nats gear up for their matchups against the five-time reigning National League East champs, and they’ve clearly outplayed the Phillies of late.
“I think everybody always gets up for the king of the mountain,” manager Davey Johnson said. “And the Phillies, as far as I’m concerned, are still the king of the mountain. Nobody’s really knocked them off that mountain. They’re banged up, but so are we. We’re banged up, too.
“But my guys know when we come in here, if we want to play with the best, we’ve got to beat these guys. And we’ve been doing a pretty good job.”
Still, Ian Desmond isn’t reading too much into the Nats’ recent dominance over their division neighbors to the north.
“I think you kind of have to look at it in reality,” Desmond said. “Last year, they were 20 games up. They weren’t playing at full strength. This year, it’s early in the season, they also aren’t playing at full strength. Neither are we, obviously, but it’s May. These guys are a veteran ballclub with good players. We’ll see what happens towards the end of the year.
“These wins right here don’t mean anything. No pennant’s ever been won in May.”
Desmond, meanwhile, has now matched his home run total from last season. His eight homers are the most among all National League shortstops, while his 22 extra-base hits are tops among all shortstops in the major leagues.