Every game’s a close one, plus DeRosa update (DeRosa activated, Nady to DL)

Manager Davey Johnson said on Saturday that Mark DeRosa was mere days away from returning to the Nationals after a lengthy absence due to a left oblique strain.

The veteran infielder’s return could end up being today.

DeRosa’s rehab assignment with Single-A Potomac has ended and the Nationals could decide to activate him before tonight’s game at Colorado.

If DeRosa is added to the 25-man roster today, Xavier Nady, Roger Bernadina and Tyler Moore are candidates to be dropped from the roster to make room. With as well as Moore has played recently and with the Nationals facing three straight left-handed Rockies starters, however, I’d be somewhat surprised to see the right-handed hitting rookie sent back to Triple-A.

Update: DeRosa has indeed been activated off the DL, and to clear room for him on the roster, the Nationals have placed Nady on the 15-day disabled list with right wrist tendinitis.

DeRosa went 1-for-11 with two RBIs and four walks in four games with Potomac. He will back up Ryan Zimmerman at third base and serve as another right-handed bat off the bench.

Meanwhile, if it seems like the Nationals find themselves in an incredibly close ballgame pretty much every day, that’s because, well, they’re in a close ballgame pretty much every day.

Simple enough explanation, huh?

These Nationals have lacked the 10-2 game this season, whether it’s been them scoring the 10 runs or allowing them.

They’ve lacked the type of early-inning offensive power that allows their starting pitcher to cruise through his outing and completely focus on attacking the strike zone instead of being worried about leaving a ball down the middle and having it sent out of the yard.

Overall, the Nationals have played 26 one-run games already this season, the sixth-most in the majors, and have been a part of 13 two-run games.

Of their 70 games played, only eight have been blowouts (games determined by five or more runs). And it seems like, of those eight games, very few have been truly out of reach until the late innings.

Take, for example, the last game decided by five runs the Nats were a part of - the series opener against the Yankees, which the Nationals lost 7-2. That was a 2-1 ballgame entering the seventh inning, until the Yankees hit Brad Lidge around and tacked on four runs to take control.

It’s not necessarily a negative that the Nationals have been in so many close games. It’s fun for the fans to watch tight ballgames and close finishes. It gets the team used to playing in situations where every run is crucial in the late-innings and gives them experience winning games where they have to protect a slim lead.

But on the flip side, every one-run lead late in a game allows the possibility for what happened yesterday, when Sean Burnett allowed a two-run homer in the eighth. Every 3-2 lead in the eighth inning forces you to use your top relievers instead of giving them a breather that night.

One- and two-run games aren’t always a bad thing, but having them nearly every night wears on a team a little bit. And that’s why Davey Johnson would like to see his team bang out a few more runs, to avoid those tight finishes and give him some easier situations to manage in the late-innings.

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