“You take nothing for granted in this game,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “I mean, this is a game you never take anything for granted. My two veteran players took it for granted that the ball was out. That’s kind of a mental mistake because you can always review it. You never put yourself in position with the ball still on the field, and two veteran players messed that up.”
Panic, even during the Nationals’ worst losing streak since June 19, remains an unnecessary recourse. They still have the best record in the majors at 77-50 and lead the Atlanta Braves in the National League East by 41
But the tension that attends any playoff push is rising. After the final pitch, Johnson and General Manager Mike Rizzo conversed behind the closed door of Johnson’s office for nearly 20 minutes, Johnson’s shouts audible from the hallway outside.
The yelling appeared to be the release of frustration after a dispiriting loss, not the start of a rift. Although it was not clear what the argument centered on, Johnson could be heard shouting, “You come down and manage the team.”
“I had a discussion with my boss,” Johnson said later.
The sweep in Philly inspired the Nationals’ first recent brush with worry. Playing with both Ian Desmond and Michael Morse out with injuries all weekend, the Nationals scored five runs in three games. They’ve scored six runs in their past four games. After a day off, they will have a chance to snap out of it Tuesday in Miami with Stephen Strasburg on the mound.
“I don’t think there’s any panic or anything like that,” Werth said. “Although, when you’re in a pennant chase and you’re getting to September, there definitely should be a sense of urgency.”
The sweep also offered an emphatic reminder that the Phillies remain a menace. Miles from contention, the Phillies’ pitching staff makes them a frightening spoiler. Over the weekend, Kyle Kendrick, Roy Halladay and Lee all delivered gems and outpitched the Nationals’ vaunted rotation. The Phillies have beaten the Nationals six of their past seven meetings, a discomforting thought given the Nationals’ schedule: They close with six of nine against Philadelphia.