A .500 record 48 games in

PITTSBURGH - The Nationals are .500 for the first time all season.

It’s weird to type. I bet it’s weird to read.

Fourty-eight games in, the Nats are 24-24, having lost three in a row and four of five. They’re currently 3 1/2 games back of the Braves in the National League East and in third in the division, although I really hate looking at the standings this early in the season.

Where do things sit on the panic meter?

Depends who you ask, I guess,

Fans might be getting frustrated, feeling like things need to get back on track immediately. The Nationals, of course, would like for that to be the case, although it’s certainly easier said than done.

The players aren’t panicking, and they’re certainly keeping a positive outlook.

zimmermann-frustrated-towel-sidebar.jpg“Something’s got to turn,” Jordan Zimmermann said. “We’re hitting balls on the screws and right at guys. We got guys on base almost every inning. We’re just not getting the clutch hits right now. It’s going to come. It’s a long season. Can’t be too upset right now. We’re still .500. The pitching will come around, the hitting will eventually be there and we’ll get things figured out.”

The Nats have struggled offensively of late, yes. Entering yesterday’s game, the team ranked last in the majors for the month of May in batting average (.226), on-base percentage (.284) and slugging percentage (.343).

Prior to putting up two runs in the eighth last night, the last time they had a multi-run inning was the sixth inning on Tuesday.

They could use the injury excuse if they want. Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche are on the DL, leaving guys like Zach Walters, Greg Dobbs and Scott Hairston in the batter’s box in key situations at times.

No offense to those guys intended, but they’re not Zimmerman, Harper or LaRoche.

But the Nats are unwilling to play the injury card, for the most part.

“There’s no question we want to have those guys back,” Denard Span said. “But once 7 o’clock starts, I’m not thinking about that. We’ve got to find a way to win. That’s why there’s a 40-man roster. Guys have got to pull up some slack. Guys are getting opportunities now. Even as a young player, this is what you want.

“We’re a good team. You want to step in and try to help us win right now. We’ve just got to try to hold the fort until we get our guys back.”

The Nats know things need to turn. And they know, after what happened last season, that they can’t wait forever to get on track.

Manager Matt Williams was asked last night if he’s shocked that the Nats sport a .500 record right now, given the talent on the team and the expectations surrounding the club.

Many might have thought the Nats would be atop the NL East right now. Instead, they sit in third place.

“Well, in that respect, then it’s been a disappointment,” Williams said. “But (I) think you can point to a lot of things that will contribute to our 24-24. And it doesn’t deter us in any stretch from being ready to play tomorrow and being ready to play the rest of our games. ...

“I’m not shocked. I’m hopeful and I’m excited and enthusiastic about what’s to come. And that’s all I can say about it.”

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