Williams on Cabrera and maintaining the momentum

It’s difficult to find anything negative going on for the Nationals right now.

The team is coming off of a near-perfect homestand, has won 13 of its last 14 games overall and currently holds a league-best eight-game division lead over the Braves. Oh, by the way, they hold the best record in the National League at 75-54.

Forget half-full. The Nats’ glass is practically overflowing.

But despite the fact that it’s been practically all sunshine and rainbows for the NL East leaders, nothing has been clinched yet and there’s still plenty of work to be done. And during Monday’s pregame session with the media, Nationals manager Matt Williams stressed the importance of using the team’s recent hot streak as a springboard for a daunting road trip.

williams-with-jacket-sidebar.jpg“That’s our M.O.,” Williams said. “Regardless of who we’re playing or what’s happened yesterday, these guys do a good job of shutting that down and appreciating (success) if we win, but focusing on today, too.”

Gone are the friendly confines of Nationals Park, at least for now. The Nats begin a nine-game road trip that includes a lengthy stint out west. But before the team heads west, it begins a three-game series against the Phillies, starting tonight as Tanner Roark aims for his sixth win in his last nine starts. In his last eight starts, Roark is 5-1 with a 2.17 ERA.

One National who isn’t in tonight’s lineup is infielder Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera has the night off for precautionary reasons after noticing some discomfort in his side during Sunday’s win against the Giants. It’s not a oblique injury, specifically, but is certainly something he and Williams want to keep an eye on moving forward.

“He doesn’t act like it’s a normal oblique,” Williams said. “He felt it running down after he swung, so we decided let’s err on the side of caution and make sure he’s not bad. He hit in the cage today and said he was fine.”

A successful hitting session for Cabrera is a good sign. In 20 games with the Nationals, Cabrera has hit .264, including eight hits in his last nine games. Still, the 28-year-old isn’t taking any chances, particularly with the Nationals getting set for a potential deep postseason run.

“It’s better to lose one day than to lose 15 days on the DL,” Cabrera said.

Danny Espinosa will get the start at second base for the Nationals tonight. He’ll bat eighth.

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