The building of narratives for the Nationals-Giants National League Division Series can officially begin, and the juxtaposition between the recent playoff success for each team is an easy place to start. The Giants have won two of the last four World Series, a grizzled bunch that has survived seven consecutive postseason elimination games. The Nationals squandered a six-run lead in Game 5.
That’s an easy storyline that columnists and reporters are sure to beat into a fine paste by 3:07 p.m. Friday. Late Wednesday night, in a champagne-soaked clubhouse at PNC Park, Giants Game 2 starter Tim Hudson beat everyone to the punch – and offered a direct challenge to the Nationals.
“Obviously they have a talented group over there, there’s no question,” Hudson told The Post’s Barry Svrluga. “They have some great pitching. But come playoff time, talent can take you a long ways, but what do you have between your legs? That’s going to take you real far. And I think we’ve got a group in here that really has some of that.”
Hudson’s implication: The Nationals don’t. Or at least they haven’t shown it yet.
The notion – right or wrong, contrived or accurate – will hover over the series until the Nationals disprove it. The Giants since 2010 have developed an aura of invincibility in October, and they have kept the core of those two World Series teams largely intact. The Nationals will receive their first chance to shake the deflation of Game 5 and the disappointment of 2013.
But these Nationals are far different than the 2012 version. On that team, five players had postseason experience. On this year’s roster, probably 19 players will be making a return trip. Their shared experiences, the highs and lows of the last two years, have toughened them in a way they hadn’t been before 2012.
In the end, if the Nationals locate their pitches and grind down the Giants’ diminished rotation and run the bases well and do all of the other that won them 96 games, the narrative will melt away. If the Giants outplay them in Game 1, it will persist.
By the way, the outline for today: The Nationals will be holding news conferences for Manager Matt Williams and their Game 1 starter – likely Stephen Strasburg, although they have yet to announce it – and noon. They’ll workout from 1 to 3 p.m. at Nationals Park, a practice that is not open to the public. The Giants will arrive at Nationals Park sometime in the afternoon and follow the same routine.