Well, I think it’s fair to say this weekend didn’t go exactly as the Nationals had hoped.
Coming off six straight road wins over American League East teams, the Nats returned home with a chance to make a statement against another red-hot division leader, one with plenty of talent and experience on the big stage. Instead, it was the visiting Yankees who made the statement.
The Nats were outscored 16-6 in the Yankees’ three-game sweep, made four errors to New York’s one and went a combined 4-for-24 with runners in scoring position. They were in all three games and were hardly blown out by Joe Girardi’s team, but didn’t do nearly enough offensively (six runs over the course of three games just won’t do it) and made too many mistakes to get the job done against a squad which again looks like one of the best in the bigs.
It was a disappointing outcome in a series that drew plenty of attention around baseball, but let’s face it, over the years, the Yankees have played in quite a few big series with everyone watching. The Nats, not so much. And that’s why, despite the losses, some in the Nationals’ clubhouse felt there might have been something positive to take out of the last three days.
“I think it was a great experience for the ball club,” manager Davey Johnson said. “Full house, playing the Yankees. I mean, that’s a good way to get a quick education.”
“I think that’s the one good thing that came this weekend is it’s about as close to a playoff atmosphere as you’re going to get,” Adam LaRoche said. “Get the place packed, get people going crazy, obviously draws a lot of media attention. It’ll be good for these guys, especially the young guys, to get used to it.”
Another positive is that the Nationals wake up this morning still four games up in the National League East, their division lead entering Friday’s action having only been cut by one game. It’s hard to get too frustrated when you open the newspaper or take a peek at the standings online and still see your team’s name in first place with a fairly healthy cushion separating you from the rest of the pack.
The Nats were left frustrated with their performance against the Yankees, but they’re certainly not going to dwell on this three-game stretch. They’ve played well over the last couple weeks and will have a chance to show their stuff against another AL East power starting tomorrow when they host the Rays.
“It’s not October yet,” Bryce Harper said. “That’s how you look at it. It’s not October yet. We’ve still got a long season. We’ve still got a lot of games left.”
And showing just how far the Nats have come this year, they’re already thinking about a possible October rematch with the Yankees on the biggest stage.
“Maybe we’ll see these guys again later in the year,” LaRoche said.