What’s two losses in the grand scheme of a baseball season?
When you play 162 games, two losses shouldn’t really mean all that much until the final week or so of the season, right?
The Nationals dropped two straight to the Mets the last two days, but they still have 27 games left on their schedule. Yeah, yesterday’s loss to the Mets combined with the Reds’ win out in Colorado pushed the Nats back to 7 1/2 games back in the race for the final wild card. That obviously stings, but how much damage can the last two days have really done to the Nationals’ playoff hopes?
Well, it turns out these two losses more than cut the Nats’ odds of reaching the playoffs in half.
Following the Nationals’ three-game sweep of the Marlins this week, they had a 7.6 percent chance of reaching the postseason, per CoolStandings.com.
The Nats had won 14 of 19 games. The Reds had been sliding a bit. The margin between the two teams had been cut to 6 1/2 games with 29 to play - a very steep hill to climb, for sure, but an achievable goal if things played out just so.
After losing to the Mets the last two nights, including yesterday’s 11-3 blowout defeat, the Nats’ chances of reaching the postseason are down to 2.9 percent.
That’s how quickly momentum can come to a halt.
When you dig yourself this deep of a hole and have this little time to try and make a comeback, every game is crucial. The Nats were well-aware of this fact. They knew they needed to make an insane run down the stretch in order to complete the comeback and make an improbable push towards the postseason, and so they also know how much the last two days have hurt.
“Obviously we know that we’re running out of time,” Denard Span said last night. “Each game that goes by, it’s getting even more and more detrimental for us to win. Tonight, just a terrible game. A type of loss like this came at the wrong time. ...
“We definitely had in mind to come into the series and do what we did against Miami and if not sweep them then at least win two out of three. To lose the first two, definitely tough, but you’ve got to just turn the page and try to win tomorrow. That’s it. That’s where we are right now. Lost the first two, nothing we can do about it. Sucks. We obviously know that we’re taking two steps backward in the standings.”
A team that all season long had been in search of some momentum, the Nats had felt their spirits start to rise the last week as the win total slowly increased.
Their three-week-long hot streak had brought some life back to the clubhouse. Music was being played after wins, something that had been absent for the previous couple months. Smiles had returned to players’ faces. The Nats’ playoff chances were still slim, but optimism had slowly started to return.
There is, of course, still a sliver of hope. As Ian Desmond said last night, the Nats plan to “keep on grinding until you’re mathematically eliminated.”
But these two losses to the Mets have pushed the Nats to the brink, and they’re certainly aware of that fact.