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Posted at 08:56 AM ET, 08/01/2011

Nationals aiming high in the clubhouse, while looking ahead in the front office


After they finished dog-piling at first base to celebrate a walk-off win yesterday, the Nationals could retreat to their clubhouse, look around and know who’d they be spending the final two months of the season. Sure, there will be call-ups and probably an August trade or two and demotions to the minors here and there. By and large, the Nationals as they are now will be the Nationals until the end of September.

“I think we’ve got our team,” right fielder Jayson Werth said. “It can be a tough time. You don’t know where you’re going to be tonight or tomorrow. It makes it tough to play the game sometimes, but it’s over with. We can focus on the rest of the season, go with the guys we’ve got. We feel good about our club.”

How great? Those who run the Nationals and those who play may have conflicting agendas for the final two months. Manager Davey Johnson spoke yesterday about the need for cycling young pitchers through the starting rotation, starting Thursday with Ross Detwiler in Colorado.

The Nationals are 11 games out of the wild card race, with six teams separating them from the Atlanta Braves, with whom they’ll start a three-game series with tonight. In the front office, they logically find evidence to start looking, with at least half an eye, toward next year. In the clubhouse, they still harbor hope. For them, what else is there?

“Our goal is to make the playoffs,” Werth said. “We’re going to have to go on a run to do it, no secret there. But I think we’ve got the guys. We’ve got the mentality. We’ve got the club to do it. Who knows what can happen? We need to get on a roll and don’t look back.”

“Grim” would probably be too optimistic of a word to describe the Nationals’ playoff odds. Climbing out of last place and finishing at .500, with the Nationals sitting at 51-56, is not out of the question. That would represent progress – a 12-win improvement over last season. The Nationals have their team, and now they have two months to determine just what kind of team it is.

FROM THE POST

“Probably the weirdest day” of Drew Storen’s career ended with a 3-2 walk-off win over the Mets after Storen gave up a game-tying homer in the ninth.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Toledo 8, Syracuse 5: Chris Marrero went 3 for 5 with a double. Jesus Valdez went 2 for 4 with a home run. Craig Stammen allowed two runs in six innings on eight hits and a walk, striking out seven.

Binghamton 5, Harrisburg 2: Bryce Harper went 1 for 3 with a walk.

Potomac 5, Frederick 2: Danny Rosenbaum allowed two runs in eight innings on three hits and two walks, striking out 11. Destin Hood went 2 for 5.

Hagerstown 3, Delmarva 1: Kevin Keyes went 2 for 5 with a double. Michael Taylor went 2 for 4. Shane McCatty threw three perfect relief innings, striking out one.

Auburn 6, Tri-City 1: Angelberth Montilla went 2 for 5 with a home run. Nathan Karns allowed one run in 3 2/3 innings on one hit and six walks, striking out three.

By  |  08:56 AM ET, 08/01/2011

 
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