The 2013 season has been a tale of two teams for the Washington Nationals. The team started off hot in April, sweeping the first series of the year, but then fell into a deep slump where the team struggled to get to .500 and was one of the worst hitting clubs in baseball. However, the last several weeks, the Nationals play had brought hope back to DC. Washington has the best record in baseball since August 15th, and has been firing on all cylinders as the postseason approaches.
Unfortunately, after a loss in the series finale to the division leading Atlanta Braves, the Nationals slim chances of making the postseason has grown even slimmer. The Nats now trail the Cincinnati Reds by five games in the Wild Card and have eleven games left, none against Wild Card contenders. According to MLB.com, the Nationals have just a 3.3% chance of making the playoffs and have an elimination number of seven. At this point, the only shot the Nats have is if they go 11-0 the rest of the season and the Reds do not win seven games.
Wednesday nights’ loss against the Braves helped dig them into a bigger hole. After winning the first two games of the series in dramatic and somewhat convincing fashion following the Navy Yard shooting, the Nationals seemed to have all the momentum in the series and seemed on their way to a sweep of the best team in the National League. And the Nats did start off the game with the momentum. After Ross Ohlendorf(4-1) traded zeroes with Alex Wood for the first four innings, the Nationals broke through in the fifth and got Wood worked up enough to the point where he was ejected. After loading the bases with one out, Jayson Werth worked an eight pitch at bat that concluded with him giving a 1-0 lead with a bases loaded walk on some questionable strike zone umpiring. Bryce Harper followed with a sac fly and after the play, Wood was ejected for arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire.
Woods ejection may have pumped the momentum back to the Braves. Ohlendorf, who has been a pleasant surprise this season for the Nats, hit a wall in the sixth inning. The first pitch of the inning was blasted over the wall in left by Dan Uggla to slice the lead to 2-1. Jordan Schafer followed with a bunt single, and two outs later, Nats nemesis Justin Upton put the Braves ahead with a towering home run to center field. The Braves would add two insurance runs in the late innings and Craig Kimbrel would lock down the ninth to reduce Atlanta’s magic number to two with 10 games left. One positive from the game was that Denard Span extended his hitting streak to 29 games with a single to right in the seventh inning.