SAN FRANCISCO - Yesterday afternoon, Jayson Werth received a text message from a longtime friend of his, someone who played baseball in college and knows the game well.
The friend had been watching the Nationals lately, had seen them rattle off a bunch of wins, and had noticed the Nats go into San Francisco and dominate the Giants - the team with the best record in baseball - on Monday night.
"He said we looked like the 2012 Nats," Werth said last night, after the Nationals won their ninth game in their last 11 contests. "That's good. We played great in '12. We won close to 100 games that year and won the division. So when people start taking notice of the type of ball you're playing and the style of game you're throwing out there every night, it's good. It feels good."
There's no doubt that the Nationals are on a roll right now.
Those who are careful about reading too much into brief winning streaks could've pointed out that the Nats began this hot run by taking two of three from the Rangers (currently three games under .500), sweeping the Phillies (currently 10 games under .500) and taking two of three from the Padres (currently eight games under .500). A solid stretch, yes, but not major tests there.
The last two days, however, have been impressive. Hard for anyone to argue that.
On Monday, the Nats whipped up on the Giants, who came into this four-game set 21 games over .500. Last night, the Nats again got great pitching, played tremendous defense and grinded out a 2-1 win in an incredibly entertaining ballgame.
The Giants hadn't lost two straight games since May 16-17. They hadn't scored two runs or fewer in back-to-back games since April 21-22.
They haven't lost a series since the Rockies took two of three from them May 20-22. With a win either tonight or tomorrow, the Nats would secure a series win on the road against what had been the hottest team in the majors.
"I feel like we're a second-half team," Werth said. "We're playing good right now, but I've said this before - you've got to put yourself in a position to give yourself a chance in the second half. We're getting hot right now, and we're playing good."
This isn't the same team that the Nats had in 2012. A bunch of the pieces are different. The manager is different. The standings look a good bit different than they did at this time two years ago.
But Werth's friend sees similarities between this Nats squad and the one from 2012, and he's not alone.
"I see it, too," Werth said. "We're playing good. We're kind of clicking on all cylinders. We got it going. The type of baseball that you want to play in the second half, we're playing it in June.
"We've got a long way to go. We've got 100 games left or something, but it's good."