The Nats blew leads on consecutive nights and were up against Florida ace Josh Johnson in the series finale. A Marlins' sweep looked about as likely as Pudge Rodriguez hitting into a double play.
Somehow the Nats kept pace with the big hurler, driving up his pitch count (translation: striking out a bunch), and forcing him out of the game after 6 innings. And wouldn't you know it, the Nats pulled it out in 11 on a two-run jack by Adam LaRoche.
In any other year, the Nats lose that game in devastating fashion, and they lose about seven more in a row after. Things are different this year.
Will it result in 85 wins?
But you won't see any of those 10-game losing streaks this year, and that's a start.
Let's get on with it...
How many games will the Nats win in 2011?
The Nats did well to split their three games this week after dropping the first two. Tuesday, poor defense led to an extra-innings loss to the Fish. The Nats blew a four-run lead Wednesday, but came back to beat Florida in extras on Thursday. On Friday, Pudge came through with a two-RBI single to beat the Mets. New York came back Friday with a win to set up the rubber match Sunday, which the Nationals took in 11 innings.
Game of the Week
Thursday's 5-3 win over the Marlins
As I mentioned above, if the Nationals lose this game, they go into a tail-spin.
The fact that they won on a day where Josh Johnson was starting, and the Marlins got out to a early two-run lead makes it all the better. Jayson Werth's solo shot to cut the lead was huge, not only for Werth's confidence—which has to be suffering after a tough start to the year—but also the Nationals season. Up to that point, the Nats had yet to get a hit off of Johnson, but that hit showed them they could score off the Cy Young contender.
Player of the Week
Tyler Clippard (4 G, 6.1 IP, 8 K, 1 H, 2 BB, 0.00 ERA)
Let's ignore the fact that Jim Riggleman is running this guy into the ground already (6.1 innings in a week?) and just focus on how brilliant Clippard has been. Whenever the Nats need a strikeout, Clippard gets it. Without Clippard, I'm not sure the Nats win a game this week. He is easily the MVP of the team through two weeks.
Dud of the Week
Mike Morse (2-14, 2 BB, 2 RBI, 4 K)
I had high hopes for Morse coming into the season, as did every Nationals fan after his amazing performance in spring training, but it appears Morse left his swing in Viera. With Zimmerman facing a possible stint on the DL, it is imperative for Morse to find his swing and fast.
This Week on a Scale of 1 to 10
I'm giving the game this week an eight. Wins in Florida are not easy to come by for the Nats, and coming back after a disappointing loss Saturday to take the series in New York was huge for the team's confidence going forward. And they're going to need it with Zimmerman possibly out for a couple of weeks.
Random Diatribe of the Week
The Nationals bullpen has been a revelation in 2011. Unfortunately, they may not be around for much longer if they continue on this pace. Drew Storen and Clippard have combined to pitch 15 innings in only nine games.
The Nationals have to find another arm out of the pen they can trust. The Nationals can officially call up players they sent down to start the season on Sunday, which means Colin Balester, who pitched well enough to make the club out of camp, may be on the way.
Henry Rodriguez, who hit triple-digits on the gun last year with Oakland, pitched well in his minor league rehab assignment. Help may be on the way and the Nats need it.
NL East Power Rankings
If the Phillies ever vacate this spot, I'd be surprised. The Phils overcame a six-run defeat at the hands of the Mets to reel off four out of five to end the week.
Where will the NAts finish in the NL East?
They're last in the standings, but that will happen when you play the Phillies. There's no doubt, they're No. 2 with a bullet
3. Washington Nationals
The Nats, Mets and Marlins have all played each other with each team coming out of it 3-3. The Nats go on top because they played every game on the road.
Hanley Ramirez has to start playing like a franchise player if the Marlins expect to flirt with 80 wins.
A promising start to the week went up in flames as the Mets lost four out of their last five to end the week.
Bryce Harper Watch
Harper is hitting .267/.353/.267 with no home runs and 3 RBI through 4 games with the single-A Hagerstown Suns.
Up next for the Nats: Jayson Werth and the Nats get their first crack at the Phillies before the Marlins come to DC for the weekend.