Cubs-Nats games have proven tense, tight affairs so far

There is a long way to go, a whole lot of baseball left to play and no way to know how things will shake out in the end. But there is at least a reasonable chance of the Nationals and Cubs seeing each other again in 2016, even after today's series finale on South Capitol Street.

The owners of the NL's two best records after 2 1/2 months of baseball are well positioned to keep up their strong play and reach October. And then, it's quite possible they would square off at some point, once the stakes are awfully high.

And if that happens, the six head-to-head contests so far between these two potential powerhouses suggest that postseason series would be a doozy.

Though the Cubs have won five of the six games, including last night's 4-3 triumph, the Nationals have played them well throughout, with four of the games up for grabs and decided late.

"It's getting us ready, the way I look at it," manager Dusty Baker said.


The games haven't just been close, but they've featured the kind of intensity and meat-grinder at-bats you typically associate with big games in the fall, not random weeknights in June.

The crowds at Nationals Park the last two nights have been into it, as well. More than 37,000 turned out Monday to watch Max Scherzer and the Nats bullpen toss a two-hitter, roaring with each strikeout. And a sellout throng of 41,955 (the largest crowd of the season to date) added to the atmosphere last night.

"It's exciting," left-hander Gio Gonzalez said. "It's good to see our own fans getting into it and seeing them go out there and get on their feet. That's what we want. We want them to be as loud as possible, let 'em know that we're gonna fight."

The Nationals will hope Stephen Strasburg can extend his longstanding hot streak and improve to 11-0 with a victory in this afternoon's finale. That would leave a good taste in his team's mouth, one that might linger for several months until these two clubs potentially meet again.

"It's been fun," center fielder Ben Revere said. "It's been a tight little battle. Hopefully it's a preview of a playoff matchup."

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