The Nationals don't appear to be ready to shutter their 2011 season yet. And by getting on a little roll this week, they've put themselves in position to surpass their win total for 2010 with two weeks to spare.
They won their 69th game of the season in New York tonight - the same place they got win No. 69 on the last day of the 2010 season - with a 3-2 victory over the Mets, pulling within a game of New York for third place in the National League East.
The Nationals have now won four of their last five, beating the Mets by a run in each of the first two games of this four-game series. They did it tonight with another strong performance from their bullpen - only they didn't need Tyler Clippard to hold things together for two innings.
With the All-Star setup man on the bench, manager Davey Johnson got three shutout innings from Craig Stammen (who got the win), Atahualpa Severino, Todd Coffey and Sean Burnett before Drew Storen survived a two-out rally to earn his 36th save.
The "other side" of the Nationals' bullpen, as Johnson calls it - the one that's not asked to pitch when the team has a late lead - has shown plenty of cracks in the second half of the season. The Nationals have been searching all season for a bridge through the seventh inning to get to Clippard and Storen, and the fact that Burnett has struggled after an impressive 2010 season has put a dent in the bullpen. But he came through on Tuesday night.
So did Coffey, who allowed seven runs in July but has only given up five since then. He got a big strikeout of David Wright with Jose Reyes on base in the seventh inning.
Brad Peacock makes his first career start tomorrow for the Nationals, who can surpass their 2010 win total and tie the Mets for third place in the division with a win.