Notes and quotes on a slow Saturday

After the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader, Adam LaRoche summed things up as only Adam LaRoche can.

“It could’ve been better, but we’re all still alive after that, so we’ll get them tomorrow,” LaRoche said.

The Nationals might have split the two games with the Marlins yesterday, but LaRoche is right - at least no one died on the field.

That’s always a plus.

Splitting a doubleheader isn’t anything to be too upset about. Unfortunately for the Nationals, however, the Braves are so hot right now that Washington managed to lose ground in the standings yesterday even though they recorded a win on the day.

Atlanta’s win over the Astros coupled with the Nats split with the Marlins left the Braves just two games back in the National League East. That’s the lowest the Nationals’ division lead has been since the Braves took the first game of a doubleheader in D.C. two weeks ago to cut the margin to 1 1/2 games.

The Nats still have two more games with the Marlins, who are nine games under .500, and then play four against the Astros, who have the worst record in the majors at 35-72. But they know the numbers in the standings mean nothing if they don’t play well and take care of business.

“Obviously their records aren’t as good as ours, but these teams have talented guys on them,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “And if you have a guy like (Josh Johnson, who) threw tonight, it doesn’t matter if they’re 20 or 30 games under .500. You’ve got to beat that guy that day. No team’s going to roll over and give any teams any easy wins. It’s going to be up to us to continue to play good baseball and just treat every team the same way.”

Not too long ago, we were talking about the hot streak that Danny Espinosa was on.

A two-week stretch immediately after the All-Star break in which he hit .382 with nine extra-base hits in 14 games had worked his season average up to .255, and his slugging percentage up to .415.

Since then, however, Espinosa has fallen back into a deep slump.

Over his last nine games, Espinosa is just 3-for-37 (.081) with 17 strikeouts and just one walk.

Davey Johnson had been complimenting Espinosa’s approach at the plate not too long ago, but last night, he found himself being asked about his shortstop’s latest tough stretch.

“He’s just trying to make things happen,” Johnson said. “Chasing a little bit. Both sides, really. He hasn’t learned that once you start getting a bunch of hits, they’re not going to give into you as much and so he’s getting more anxious and going out of the zone a little bit. He’ll figure it out.”

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