The Washington Nationals currently sit 12.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves (as of 8/5 at 8 PM.) with 51 games remaining. The Nationals began a three game set at home tonight against the Braves. If the Nationals want to have any shot at the post season they will almost certainly need to sweep the Braves or at least win two out of three. Losing two out of three will mean the Nationals will sit 13.5 games back with less then 50 games to go. A sweep would make them 15.5 games back and all but diminish their division hopes.
Including this week’s series, the Nationals have nine games remaining against the Braves with six at home. If they were to win six of the nine games, they would close the gap significantly. This makes the series this week all that more important. Yes, it will be a difficult task, but history saysthe year is not over just yet. Winning the series this week could give the Nationals a jump-start and help ignite a big winning streak. A series loss could kill the team’s confidence and pretty much end the season.
Coming into Monday, the Braves have won ten games in a row. This is a great streak, but it is bound to come to end at some point. It could also be said that the Braves are hitting their stride a little too early and have a chance to hit a rough patch in September, like they did in 2011. The Nationals on the other hand have been struck by injuries and inconsistent play from their stars. The team has showed some flashes of brilliance, but have not really put together a strong winning streak. Unlike the Braves, the Nationals have not their stride this season.
If the Nationals were to put together a big winning streak, the division race would become interesting in a hurry. This emphasizes just how important this series and the rest of the games against the Braves are. It will be tough battle, but it is certainly achievable if the team is able to win the big games left.
By Mac Cassells