One third of the way through this season, nothing has been settled in the National League East. Only four games separate first place from last. The Nationals are still on top, in a virtual tie with the Marlins. By the time they leave for Boston on Thursday night, they, or any other team, could be near the bottom. That’s life in the division right now.
The Nationals, even with a roster depleted by injuries and while getting nothing offensively from Ryan Zimmerman, have hung tough. They are only 16-18 since their 14-4 start, but they have also proven themselves against top competition. In the NL East, they’re 12-7.
The Nationals are 14 games into their 32-game slog through both East divisions, neither of which currently contains a team worse than.500. The Nationals hoped to get through those 11 series at about .500, keeping them at the fore of the NL East race as Michael Morse, Brad Lidge and a few others started to return. So far, so good: The Nationals are 7-7.
The Mets were supposed to be the one pushover. But they are coming into Nationals Park as one of the hottest teams in baseball, having won 18 of their past 30 games on the strength of David Wright’s MVP-caliber start and a rotation that’s better than anyone expected. The Mets actually entered yesterday in a three-way tie for first with the Nationals and Marlins, and after a loss to the Cardinals the Mets are still only a half game out.
The Nationals catch something of a break in their series against the Mets. They will miss ace Johan Santana on Wednesday as the Mets give him two days of extra rest after throwing 134 pitches to complete his no-hitter, the first in team history, on Friday night. The Nationals will instead face rookie Jeremy Hefner, who is 1-2 with a 5.60 ERA.
The Nationals should take advantage of that break. In the National League East right now, those are hard to come by.
FROM THE POST
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Indianapolis 4, Syracuse 3: Corey Brown went 1 for 4 with a home run. Mark Teahen went 2 for 3 with a double.
Harrisburg was off.
Frederick 4, Potomac 0: Brad Lidge allowed one run on two hits and a walk in 1/3 of an inning, striking out one. Matt Grace allowed three runs on eight hits and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, striking out four.
Hagerstown was off.