“The team that goes into the playoffs playing hot, playing good ball, to me that’s usually the most dangerous team in any sport,” said center fielder Denard Span, who extended his hitting streak to 23 games with an eighth-inning double. “So if we can sneak in there, I’m pretty sure some teams would probably be a little worried.”
The prospect remains a long shot. With 16 games to play, the Nationals sliced the idle Cincinnati Reds’ lead to 51
2 games in the race for the NL’s second wild-card spot. They will head back to Washington for a 10-game homestand that includes seven games against the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins, the kind of also-rans the Nationals have feasted on all month.
“If anything, it makes it frustrating seeing what we’re doing now, knowing what we didn’t do for the better part of four months,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “Now you’re starting to see what this team can do. I’ll never know what took us so long.”
The Nationals bashed 13 home runs over the four-game demolition compared to none for the Mets, the most homers ever been hit by an opponent in a series at Citi Field. In Thursday’s soggy matinee, Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos, LaRoche and Anthony Rendon all drilled solo homers. Zimmerman’s first-inning drive to left gave him eight homers in his past 10 games.
“We’re on fire right now,” Ramos said.
The Nationals added 10 doubles in the series, which continued a remarkable power stretch. After they belted seven more extra-base hits Thursday, the Nationals have slugged .463 over their 32-game surge to contention. Over the course of a season, that would rank somewhere between Matt Holliday and Justin Upton.
“Hitting’s contagious both ways,” right fielder Jayson Werth said. “A couple guys go into a slump, everybody goes into a slump. Couple guys get hot, everybody gets hot. Just how this game goes. Right now, it’s going our way. All season things haven’t been going our way, so you figure at some point things have got to swing in the other direction. We’ll see if there’s enough time.”
Tanner Roark allowed two runs on six hits over six efficient innings, coasting through 78 pitches despite a 56-minute rain delay after the first inning. An unheralded, 26-year-old call-up, Roark has begun his major league career with a 6-0 record and a 1.30 ERA over 342