May 4, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT
Strong showing in New York – The Nationals traveled to New York this weekend to face the Mets, who at the beginning of the series were undefeated at home and owners of the best record in baseball. The Nats also lost Denard Span for two-plus games during the series, yet they took three of four and cut their deficit in the division from six games to four along the way.
If the Nats had lost this series, they would have returned home with significant ground to make up in the NL East. Now they have to feel a lot better about themselves after showing they can beat the Mets even while missing Span for several games and even with Anthony Rendon’s continued absence.
The Nationals’ wins on Saturday and Sunday were particularly impressive, as they got two victories despite scoring a combined two runs. It was the first time in franchise history they won back-to-back games by a score of 1-0. The last D.C. team to accomplish that was the 1915 Senators. With key contributors missing from their lineup and a Mets team built with elite pitching, the Nats had to play clean, mistake-free baseball. They did just that and came away with as impressive a series win as they come this early in the year.
What is going on with Anthony Rendon?– Rendon was out of the lineup at Double-A Harrisburg on Sunday once again, the seventh time in the last eight days he has sat out. Now it’s side tightness that is affecting him, a new injury that the Nats say is separate from the left MCL sprain that has already kept him out for two months. Whatever it is exactly that is going on, it seems to be getting less and less promising by the day.
The Nationals have said very little about Rendon’s progress dating back to March 9 when he first injured his knee. It was first supposed to be a day-to-day thing, but here we are months later and Rendon is yet to play for the Nats. Given the lack of information, it’s tough to tell when he will return. Regardless, he continues to experience setbacks and right now it appears wise to at the very least exclude Rendon from any of the Nats’ plans for the near future. They need him back 100 percent whenever he can return and it doesn’t look like that will be any time soon.
Surgning Marlins in town – The Marlins stumbled out of the gate with one of the worst starts in the majors and at one point seemed to be hovering quite closely over the panic button. After starting 3-11, rumors emerged of manager Mike Redmond being on the hot seat, a players-only meeting was held, Giancarlo Stanton called out his teammates’ commitment and their catcher first got benched and then DFA’d.
Now the Marlins are 12-13 after winning nine of their last 11 and they had a four-game winning streak going before the Phillies avoided the sweep against them on Sunday. The Marlins are starting to look like the team many predicted to compete for a playoff spot and they come to Washington a group that must see the Nats as an early season test.
One thing to watch will be the pitching matchups, as the Nats could have a big advantage this week:
Monday – Jordan Zimmermann (2-2, 4.88) vs. David Phelps (1-0, 3.38)
Tuesday – Stephen Strasburg (2-2, 4.60) vs. Mat Latos (0-3, 6.86)
Wednesday – Max Scherzer (1-3, 1.26) vs. Tom Koehler (2-2, 4.67)
NL East Standings
Offensive game of the week: Dan Uggla 4/28 vs. Braves – 3-for-5, HR, 3B, 5 RBI, 2 R
Pitching game of the week: Doug Fister 5/3 vs. Mets – 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 3 SO. 89 pitches, 68 strikes.
Quote of the week:
Zimmermann with a playful jab at Scherzer after driving in three runs vs. the Braves on Wednesday:
“I like hitting. I’m just not as fragile as some guys on this team.”
Tweet of the week:
Fan tweets at Span, Span tweets back…
@hunster1925 lol not quite
— Denard Span (@thisisdspan) May 1, 2015
MON – 7:05 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (Zimmermann)
TUE – 7:05 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (Strasburg)
WED – 1:05 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (Scherzer)
THU – OFF
FRI – 7:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves (Gonzalez)
SAT – 4:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves (Fister)
SUN – 1:35 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves (Zimmermann)
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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