MIAMI - Luckily for the Nationals, they haven't had too many nights like last night.
There haven't been many grit-your-teeth, clench-your-fist type of losses to this point in the season, games that the Nats had in their grasp but let slip away late.
Yes, last night was Rafael Soriano's fourth blown save of the season, but one of those four games ended up turning into a win anyway. And outside of a few blown saves, very few of the Nats' defeats this season have felt like punches to the gut.
Last night was a tough one for Nats fans to take, as Matt Williams' club had a 6-0 lead through six innings, only to surrender two runs in the seventh, one in the eighth and four in the ninth. Just like that, a dominating performance by Jordan Zimmermann turned into a no-decision, Bryce Harper's solid night at the plate became an afterthought, and another road win turned into a division loss.
But the Nationals say that they're set up to put a night like last night behind them. They're conditioned to turn the page after a game, regardless of the outcome. And despite how frustrating last night's loss might have been, there will be another game today that the Nats will show up prepared to win.
"We've kind of got no other choice. That's the only way to look at a tough loss," Adam LaRoche said. "Fortunately, we haven't had to deal with a lot of these. This is such a good bullpen that typically when we get up a few runs late, the game's been over. So I think that's kind of why it's a shock, because it hasn't happened much this year. But it's going to. You play this many games, you're going to see some crazy stuff. And this happened to be one of them."
"These guys in the bullpen have been really good," Jayson Werth said. "It's whatever. You move on. Things happen. We'll be fine. We're a resilient team. Got a long way to good. We've got a good club. I like the way things set up for us and the way we're playing."
With the loss and Atlanta's win earlier in the day yesterday, the Nats' lead in the National League East is back down to a half-game. The Braves head to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers the next three days, while the Nats finish off their long road trip with two more against Miami.
Williams has been around this club for more than five months now, and he has a good feel for how the players will react to various situations. And he says he has total confidence that his team will bounce back well from what happened last night.
"They're fine," Williams said. "A loss is a loss is a loss. It stings a little more when you've got the lead late and it doesn't happen for you, but they're resilient. If they've shown anything this year, they are that. And they are professionals. They'll be ready to play tomorrow. Ready to go."