Given what we thought of the NL East going into this year, I can think of no good reason why a healthy Nats team shouldn't be winning the East by several games over an injured Mets team. The Nats are healthy. The Mets are injured. And lo and behold, a healthy Nats team IS winning the East by several games over an injured Mets team. It's always nice to see what you feel are basic assumptions validated.
We've talked about this time frame - starting with the Phillies road trip on May 30th and ending with the Brewers series that finishes up on July 6th - being a chance for the Nats to really separate themselves from the Mets (and Marlins). After starting red hot* - the Nats had bopped around against a decent schedule for about 30 games**. Now the Nats were finally getting cracks at the bottom of the divisions. PHI twice, removed from their hot start. CIN twice, MIL twice, the Padres, the falling White Sox. It was as full of easily beatable teams as the stretch before was not. The stretch started as expected, the Nats playing well and extending a 1 game lead to 5, but then the losing streak happened. What had been a possibly season defining 13-4 run morphed into another pedestrian looking 13-11 one and the lead shrunk back to 2 games.
But the stretch still was only 2/3rd done. There was time for redemption. It's odd to see it work exactly like this, a long stretch of losses in between two great stretches, but it's baseball. There's an example of everything happening. And so far what we've seen suggests we may get that second great stretch. 3 wins in a row. The time frame now reading 16-11. The lead back to 4.5 games (over the Marlins). The season of fits and starts might actually punch through at the half-way point in the season.
Last nights game - Giolito looked capable. He struck out only one but in general looked solid. He wasn't really hit hard; one sharp grounder, a couple deepish fly balls. His control did waver. His two walks were on 8 pitches total, but the Mets didn't really press that issue, swinging early in the 2nd and 3rd innings. It would have been interesting to see what the 5th and 6th innings brought. If the Mets had finally gotten it through their thick skulls to force the kid to throw strikes combined with him getting up in pitches we might have seen a shift but I guess that's for another start.
Ramos is still hitting. Murphy is still hitting. And look out because Bryce continues to be the watched kettle, heating up ever so slowly. Werth isn't hot anymore but he is mixing in timely hits with walks - 18 in June, 16 in his last 15 games, 8 int he last 5. Even the bullpen didn't blow it. Nothing but good times.
The series looked like a tough one for the Nats. Syndergaard first game. Harvey second. But thanks to Noah's bone spur that really isn't affecting him continue to let him pitch with it please, and the weather the Nats had to only face these guys for under 7 innings. That's the Mets strength and it's been effectively eliminated for the Nats the first two games. Without that the Nats are just better. Finish it out today with Matz out for injury. The sweep is there. Take it.