Nats on the brink of elimination

A season which was expected to end deep into fall with a World Series run could come to a sobering end prematurely this afternoon. The Mets trounced the Reds 12-5 last night, dropping their magic number to one to clinch the National League East. So either another New York win over Cincinnati or a Nationals loss to the Phillies will eliminate Washington from the postseason.

“This is a very tough year for everybody here,” Wilson Ramos said after the Nats dropped their fourth straight game last night.

Ramos was behind the plate for Jordan Zimmermann yesterday as the right-hander surrendered six runs - including three homers - over five innings in what was potentially the last home start at Nationals Park for the free-agent-to-be.

Jordan Zimmermann home whites.jpg“I know the fans love him,” Ramos said. “All the fans here try to give good support to him. I know it was a bad game for him. That’s the reason we love those fans, because they support us all the time. Bad day, good day, they keeping support us. So that’s very important for us. But Jordan is a really good pitcher. Hopefully, he’s not thinking about his free agency, but it’s hard to not do that. But hopefully, he finishes the season strong, you know, that’s what we need.”

Zimmermann is 39-22 with a 3.10 ERA in 94 career starts at Nationals Park.

Phillies rookie right-hander Jerad Eickhoff struck out Bryce Harper three times as the Nats slugger went hitless for the fourth straight game. Harper is 0-for-10 during his longest slide of the season, but has still drawn seven walks.

Despite the slump, Harper’s .336 batting average remains atop the majors, but Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera trails by only two points while Miami’s Dee Gordon is hitting .332.

Stephen Strasburg takes the mound this afternoon attempting to keep the Nats’ heart beating. The right-hander dominated the Phillies 11 days ago, allowing just one hit while matching his career-high with 14 strikeouts in the 4-0 win.

Strasburg struck out 10 more while yielding just one earned run in a 13-3 drubbing of the Marlins last Sunday.

Since returning from his first stint on the DL on June 23, Strasburg is 7-2 with a 1.99 ERA, striking out 90 while walking just 10 over 11 starts.

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