On a huge night for Washington sports teams, with the Caps and Wizards each winning their playoff games, the Washington Nationals got to the .500 mark for the first time this season. This arbitrary mark that differentiates between good and bad teams is still important, and signifies that this great team is back!
Teams get off to slow starts, and it is isn’t uncommon by any means. But when the Nats started off 2-6, it seemed like it was raising reasons to be concerned. Six games later, the Nationals are 7-7, with almost the entire starting lineup back in place, and things are certainly looking bright.
With the win last night, the Nats not only got another solid performance from Gio Gonzalez, but they showed the resilience that this team had so many times last year during the regular season. Yes, Drew Storen blew another save, and it was against the (darn) Cardinals, but instead of folding like they did two weeks ago against the Phillies when they blew a lead, they bounced back. Yunel Escobar officially introduced himself to the Nationals’ faithful with his walk-off and it was glorious!
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Denard Span in just his second game back, went 2-for-5 and is hitting his usual .300 batting average. His presence at the top of the lineup just feels right.
Plus, Ian Desmond had a second straight game without an error. Yes, this shouldn’t be noteworthy. However, he was spectacular tonight defensively made the big plays when the team needed him too. To me, that showed that he was over the hump. He will have more errors during the season, but he looked like a man who’s defensive woes were behind him.
This was the exact game that the doctor ordered for the Nationals. They had to grind it out, and beat a Cardinal team that was on a five-game win streak. A team that as we all remember well, eliminated them three years ago. Getting to .500 against them only made it taste that much sweeter.
Now, the Nats could easily fall back below .500 tonight and this will seem like nothing, but this game will still be important. Reaching this .500 mark now means that the slow start is officially behind them, and it didn’t take long to do so. From here on out, they can play without feeling like they are digging themselves out of a hole. They have climbed out of the hole, and are ready to do some damage.
In 2014, the Nationals didn’t go above .500 for good until June 4th, but finished the season with 96 wins. It is entirely possible that they battle to stay mediocre for the next few months, but it will no longer be because of a 2-6 start. From here on out, it is a new season for the Washington Nationals. One where the possibilities are endless. From here on out, they are only looking up.