Heading out of D.C. on a high note

Who’s ready for Philly?

Bryce Harper is. And he hopes the City of Brotherly Love is ready for him, as well.

“Hopefully, I get a couple boos,” Harper said, when asked what type of reception he expects in Philadelphia tonight. “That’d be awesome. I’m excited to get up there and play and hopefully they don’t throw any batteries at me.”

If it happens (and let’s sure hope it doesn’t), it wouldn’t be the first time an opposing outfielder has had to avoid batteries thrown by Phillies fans.

Harper and the Nationals will head up Interstate 95 for a three-game set starting tonight against the Fightin’ Phils, a group that’s won seven of its last 10 games and has gotten back to the .500 mark.

This is a crucial stretch for the Nats. Their next 15 games all come against National League East opponents (each of which currently has at least a .500 record, the only division in baseball which can make that claim), and the first nine of those 15 contests will be on the road.

That’s why yesterday’s win, a 9-3 drubbing of the Orioles, was especially large. It allowed the Nats to avoid a sweep at the hands of the O’s, snap a three-game losing streak and head into the road trip and Citizens Bank Park with a victory fresh on their minds.

“We’ve got a tough stretch coming up, including these three we just played. That would’ve not been what we needed, to head out getting swept by Baltimore here,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “So big game to avoid that and to head on to Philly with a little momentum.”

Three-game skids are nothing in the context of a full season. Slides like that happen multiple times a year to even the best squads. But it’s important for teams to be able to put a halt to even a short losing streak and avoid it spiraling into something lengthier.

One thing that’s clear about this Nats group, though, is that regardless of what happened yesterday, they would be going into Philadelphia plenty confident that they’ll get the job done.

“It was nice to get a win, definitely,” second baseman Danny Espinosa said. “We took two of three from Philly last time, though, so it’s not like we were going to go in panicking against Philly. They’re a great ballclub, and I’m not taking anything away from them, saying they’re not a good ballclub. But we’re not going to panic.

“This team’s too good. We have too many veterans, guys that have been around four or five years that there’s no need to panic. We know that we can play and we know that we can win.”

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