BOSTON - This has been a season where the Nationals have been able to make a number of statements to the baseball world.
They've sat in first place in the very tough National League East for much of the season. They've won both of their series with the Phillies, the reigning five-time division champs. They've now moved to 12 games above-.500, rare territory for this organization.
Was this weekend's sweep over the Red Sox, at Fenway Park, another statement of sorts?
"Absolutely," Tyler Clippard said. "I know we've shown the baseball world what kind of team we are. And this was kind of a statement series for us in doing that, playing interleague against an AL East team that is a historically dominant team in baseball. And we came in here and swept them. That says a lot.
"They're definitely a good club. I think we're better. I think we're a lot better. We feel really good with what we've got going on right now."
The Red Sox entered this series in last place in the AL East and just one game over-.500. They sent Felix Doubront, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jon Lester to the mound against the Nats' top three starters - Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann.
But still, this is Fenway Park. And this is the Red Sox, a team with lots of talent and legitimate playoff expectations.
Not only are the Nats now able to hang with a team like that, they're able to beat them three straight in a tough road environment.
"That's a good team," Ryan Zimmerman said. "They have a lot of good players, and the guy they pitched today (Lester) is really good. And Jordan matched him. We're just finding ways to win and doing little things right."
"We're a good ball club, and we're not scared of the AL East teams," said Zimmermann, who went seven strong innings today. "We're going to come in here and play our best ball."