ATLANTA - The Nationals might be 14 1/2 games back of the Braves in the National League East entering this three-game set in Atlanta, but Davey Johnson still views this as a big series.
"We've lost 10 out of 13 (to Atlanta). We need to show them they're not better than us," Johnson said. "Need to stand up and return the favor. Had our way with them a little bit last year, need to show we can show up and play better than they can."
The Nats enter this game coming off a tough one-run loss to the Giants last night, a defeat that snapped a five-game winning streak in dramatic and shocking fashion. But as tough as yesterday was, Johnson has put that game behind him.
"That's old history. You don't worry about what happened yesterday, you worry about what happened today," Johnson said. "I like the way we're playing. We've been playing good baseball, good sound baseball. Been getting some key hits with runners in scoring position which is something we haven't done a whole lot of this year. There's a lot of pride on this ball club and we want to finish strong."
Despite Rafael Soriano and Tyler Clippard having worked three straight days, and Drew Storen being pretty fresh, Johnson said neither Soriano nor Clippard is unavailable tonight in his book.
That could change if either reliever feels especially worn out, but Johnson plans on having both guys at his disposal tonight.
"They have to come to me and tell me (they can't go), and they haven't come to me yet," Johnson said. "There's still time, but these are important games. Nobody's been overused."
Wilson Ramos is back in the lineup today after missing the last two games with a left hamstring injury, but Johnson isn't putting any definitive titles on his catcher as far as playing time.
Is Ramos the everyday guy again? Is he going to get eased back into action and monitored super carefully?
Johnson will play it by ear.
"They said he was ready a day after (the injury)," Johnson said. "They said he was really ready the second day. I'll just go by how he's moving and how he's feeling. Take it day by day."
Ross Ohlendorf is currently taking part in his second rehab start as he tries to work back from right shoulder inflammation that has landed him on the DL. Ohlendorf is getting a start at Single-A Potomac and is scheduled to throw around 80-85 pitches. The Nats hope that will get him through around five innings.
They'll then re-evaluate Ohlendorf after the start and determine whether he's ready to be activated off the DL or whether he needs another rehab start to build up arm strength before returning.
"The last time it was 64 (pitches) through three," Johnson said. "Hopefully it'll be a better outing and he won't have any arm problems."