There's one aspect of the major league schedule that you don't really think about until you're a part of it: the travel.
The Nationals faced Jose Fernandez, one of the toughest pitchers in the majors, Wednesday night in Miami. They managed to come back from a three-run deficit and pick up a win, then headed out for the Miami airport after the game.
The team plane landed in D.C. at 2 a.m., and buses didn't get back to the stadium until right around 3 a.m. By the time most players got settled in back at their homes and were able to fall asleep, it was probably around, if not after, 4 a.m.
They'll be back at Nats Park early tomorrow afternoon, getting in early work and preparing for another incredibly tough assignment - Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright, who won 19 games and posted a 2.94 ERA last season.
Welcome home, boys.
The Nats closed out their six-game road trip with a victory last night, their fifth comeback win already this season.
The win sure was nice, given that dropping the final game of the set in Miami would have meant another series loss and a 1-5 road trip. Spirits were high leaving the visiting clubhouse at Marlins Park last night, but manager Matt Williams said he doesn't put too much into the idea that a positive end to a road trip and a happy flight home can affect things too much.
"I think these guys are veteran enough to understand that regardless of today, we have to play tomorrow - good, bad or indifferent," he said. "So it's nice to end the road trip on a good note, but what does it really mean? Nothing other than we won this game. That's important. Now we have to look forward to tomorrow."
He's got this manager thing down pat already, doesn't he?
How good have the Nats been offensively late in games? Well, they have an insane .300/.377/.528 slash line in the seventh inning or later, ranking first in the majors in all three categories. Their .905 OPS in the seventh inning or later is more than 100 points better than the next closest team.
The Nats have scored 77 runs this season. Nearly half of them (38) have come after the sixth inning.
Bottle up that offense and spread it around to the earlier innings, and the comebacks might not be necessary.
The Nationals and Cardinals obviously have a bit of a history, and this four-game set will be one that will draw lots of attention around the baseball landscape. MLB Network is picking up MASN's broadcast of tonight's game, and plenty of people will be watching this series to try and get a feel for how two of the top teams in the National League match up against each other.
Both the Nats and the Cardinals enter this series 9-6 on the young season.
"These guys are obviously one of the better teams in the league year in and year out," right fielder Jayson Werth said. "Look forward to it. These are fun games, good team. We match up well against them though, and I like where we're at. Again, this is a new year. So you can throw all that other stuff out the window that happened before. We've got some stuff going here, and I like our chances. We'll play the games and see what happens."