Back in 2012, the Nationals had a knack for the dramatic.
They excelled in the late innings that season, posting 37 comeback wins. 10 times that year did they get to celebrate a walk-off win on the field at Nationals Park, games that seemed to build momentum and bring the clubhouse even closer together.
It’s still just mid-August, but it seems like the 2014 Nationals are following that same script, to an extent.
So far this season, just a little over three-quarters of the way through the 2014 campaign, the Nats have 26 comeback wins. They’ve put together seven walk-off victories, including three in a row, with Wilson Ramos, Scott Hairston and Adam LaRoche delivering the game-winning knocks each of the last three nights.
The Nats have won seven in a row, one short of their longest winning streak during the 2012 season.
So is it starting to feel a little bit like 2012 around Nats Park at this point?
“A little bit, and not just right now,” LaRoche said after his first career walk-off homer last night. “Even early in the year when we had some injuries and still kept fighting and winning ballgames without three or four of our starters at a time in there. The guys coming up, filling the holes for us. Pitching doing what they do consistently. So, yeah, there’s definitely a 2012 feeling.”
Of course, the 2012 Nats won 98 games and finished 34 games over .500, which would be incredibly tough for this Nationals team to match. That would require a red-hot final six weeks.
But while these Nationals might not near the 100-win mark, they are riding a wave of momentum right now. Three walk-off wins in three days and a seven-game winning streak will do that.
The Nats have the best record in the National League, and perhaps more importantly right now, they’ve maintained their six-game advantage over the Braves despite the fact that Atlanta has won four in a row and five of their last six.
How demoralizing is that? You win four straight games and feel like you’re chipping away at a division deficit, only to look up and see you’re still just as far out of first place as you were before your winning streak started.
The Nats have been playing some good ball recently, and they’ve been getting to celebrate on the field at Nats Park quite a bit of late. Things seem to be falling into place as we get into the stretch run.
“It just feels like every break is going our way,” Craig Stammen said. “You don’t get out of a bases loaded jam very often. That’s a once-in-25-times thing. Walk-off home runs with two outs in the 11th. Coming back when we were down, all that stuff. Giving up home runs, coming back and scoring more runs, is just resiliency.”
“It builds a lot of character, I know that,” LaRoche said. “When you get into late innings and extra innings and see a bunch of the starting pitchers on the bench, and a bunch of guys down there pulling for each other. It just really brings this group together. It always helps to win those close games. Yeah, this build some character and some momentum for us.”