There have been a number of moments this season where it’s felt like things might not be able to get much worse for the Nationals.
They’ve been on the wrong end of too many blowouts, had too many losing streaks, too many games where they’ve scored one or zero runs and watched another of their starters get stuck with a tough-luck loss.
Remarkably enough, they’re still not out of things just yet, despite all those defeats.
The Nats are three games under .500 at 51-54, and are 8 1/2 games back of the Braves in the National League East. They’ve dug themselves a deep hole, for sure, but they still have nine games remaining against Atlanta and two months left to chip away at the deficit in the division.
After yesterday’s 4-1 win over the Mets, the Nats have now won three of four, which represents their best four-game stretch in over three weeks. Included in these last four games was an 11-0 loss to the Mets in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, a stinker of a game that left Nationals Park eerily quiet in the late innings and left the Nats clubhouse pretty dead, as well.
Since then, they’ve rattled off two straight against the Mets, with Ross Ohlendorf delivering a gem Friday night and Dan Haren pitching them to a 4-1 win yesterday. The Nats are done talking about whether they might be on the verge of getting hot, because they realize they’ve been down that road too many times this season only to again see their team fall flat. But there is a sense of optimism that’s returned to the clubhouse in the last 36 hours, for what that’s worth.
“I think after that 11-0 game, I think that could probably be maybe rock bottom there,” Haren said. “We don’t have any time for hitting rock bottom any more. That’s it. If we’re going to hit rock bottom, that was it and we have to go from there.
“Winning a couple games since then, after having a big hit (Friday) night, I was finally able to maintain some momentum. That’s something I haven’t done all year. It feels good. Hopefully we win (Sunday) and then go off on the road feeling good.”
Haren’s played for five different teams during his big league career, so he’s plenty familiar with the clubhouse dynamics and the highs and lows that players can feel over the course of a long season. He was asked last night how the Nats clubhouse feels right now in terms of morale, especially after a tough week which saw hitting coach Rick Eckstein get fired, manager Davey Johnson get ejected for the first time all season and Drew Storen get optioned to Triple-A.
“After that 11-0 game, it was pretty quiet in here,” Haren said. “The job Ohlendorf did, I mean a bad start after that 11-0 game and we’re in trouble going against (Matt) Harvey. It really was a huge start by him. Winning that game yesterday I think made us feel like, ‘OK, we’re not out of this yet.’
“And then winning (Saturday) will hopefully get us some momentum. We don’t have any more time to get into any losing streaks or to hit rock bottom. That’s it.”