Leftovers from last night

NEW YORK - After last night's game, Mets manager Terry Collins provided what I thought was an incredibly accurate description of how Doug Fister goes about his business.

"Doug throws what he wants, when he wants, where he wants," Collins told reporters.

Yeah, that pretty much hits the nail on the head. And it's quite a compliment, if you ask me.

Fister is now 12-3 on the season. In his last four outings, he's thrown at least seven innings without allowing an earned run three times.

His ERA on the season is now down to 2.34, which would tie Adam Wainwright for fifth-best in the major leagues if Fister had enough innings to qualify. The Nationals have gone 13-4 in his 17 starts.

Remove his season debut from the equation, and here's Fister's line on the year: 2.01 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 67 strikeouts, 13 walks, 0 stolen bases allowed.

Decent.

With last night's win and another Atlanta loss, the Nats are now five games up on the Braves in the National League East. That's Washington's largest division lead of the year.

Old buddy Dan Haren pitched the Dodgers to a win over Atlanta last night, so the Nats owe the veteran right-hander a beverage or two the next time they see him.

The Braves are just a single game above .500 at this point. They now have a run differential of minus-3.

Bryce Harper was asked last night how he evaluates where the Nats stand at this point.

taylor-homer-gray-sidebar.jpg"We've got to keep going," Harper said. "We can't slack on those five games and go, 'OK, we're ahead five games.' (The Braves are) a great team and they play us well every single time we play them. We have to try and get ahead as much as we can and keep playing good baseball.

"We've got a long ways to go, of course. Hopefully, we can keep going and keep playing good ball and get great outings by our staff and keep that lead."

Lastly, I would just like to pass along how much I personally enjoyed watching Michael A. Taylor have the type of major league debut that he did last night.

You watch enough baseball over the course of your life (or over the course of one season, really) and the storylines can get a little repetitive. You never know what you'll see when you show up to the park, yes, but over the course of a long season, you can sometimes feel like the postgame questions have been asked before or the topics are repeating themselves.

But I will never tire of watching a rookie get his first major league hit or slug his first big league home run. The smiles on everyone's faces, the joy in the rookie's eyes, the silent treatment in the dugout - it's all baseball at it's best, to me.

Last night, after Taylor hit his first major league homer, Fister was waiting for him when he crossed the plate.

"Oh, it's that easy, huh?" Fister joked.

Taylor got a big hug from Harper in the dugout, a guy who he had played with all the way down at low Single-A Hagerstown years ago. He had two baseballs waiting for him in his locker after the game, the one from his first hit and the one from his first homer. His phone was inundated with texts and calls, and could be heard in the 23-year-old's locker as he was doing his postgame interview with reporters.

"It just keeps vibrating," Taylor said.

All that, to me, is what makes baseball great. And I never tire of seeing it.

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