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State of the Nats: Rolling into Wrigley

May 25, 2015, 9:23 AM EST

May 24, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Drew Storen (22) is congratulated by catcher Jose Lobaton (59) after earning a save against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park. The Washington Nationals won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Top storylines:

Nats head to Wrigley to play Cubs – The Nationals pick right back up on Monday with a 2:20 p.m. start at the Chicago Cubs, as the red-hot Nats travel into Wrigley Field to take on one of the better young teams in baseball. Fans all around the country have likely been eyeing this series for a few weeks with Bryce Harper playing at an MVP level and Kris Bryant looking like a legitimate young star.

Those two will be on full display as two of the most talented players in the game, but it won’t be the first time they’ve shared the field together. Harper and Bryant go way back as natives of Las Vegas, NV. They played with and against each other as kids and Bryant talked about it this weekend with CSN Chicago’s Cubs Insider Patrick Mooney.

The full article is well worth your time, but here’s one of the better quotes:

“The thing that stands out to me is just how good he was – and how much better he was than the competition,” Bryant said. “He was like 11 years old and he was throwing like 80 miles an hour off the mound. It was special to see that from a guy that young.

“He’s obviously younger than me, but just watching him play, I was amazed. And I knew that he would be doing what he’s doing at this level someday, too.”

Bryant and Harper should be fun to watch as the NL Rookie of the Year favorite against the frontrunner for NL MVP.

Nationals are in first place  By beating the Phillies on Sunday, the Nationals secured their eighth consecutive series win. That is the longest single season stretch in franchise history since 1993. The longest series-winning streak they’ve had across multiple seasons was nine. That run stretched from the end of the 2011 season into the beginning of 2012.

The Nationals continue to roll, while the Mets keep taking steps back. New York has lost three straight games after getting swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Mets have lost five of six overall, while the Nationals have won seven of their last eight.

One has to wonder if the Nats will not look back this season, if they are in first place for good. Their lead is currently 2 1/2 games, which is of course not insurmountable, but the Nats are showing no signs of slowing down.

Nats are rolling, fans are loving it – After drawing at least 35,800 people to each of their games this homestand, the Nationals now sit seventh in baseball in average attendance. They are also sixth in attendance increase, as about 3,000 more people are showing up each night than did last season.

The large crowds have been noticed by the Nationals. Both Harper and manager Matt Williams shared their thoughts on Sunday.

Harper: “I thrive on big crowds. Of course. I love playing in front of a lot of people. If it’s a little crowd, I hate playing. I mean, truly. I’m not trying to be rude, but a little crowd, I can’t stand it. So being able to have the fans that we do show up every single day — you know, it’s kind of tough when we go on the road and some places don’t sell out. So having the fans that we do come out here every single night, I mean, this homestand was epic, having the fans that we did. It was a lot of fun. We were in it. We thrive off of that. I think they can sense that we’re going to do something special, and we want to do that for them, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Williams: “Great. That’s wonderful, isn’t it? Just phenomenal. We appreciate it. It gives the guy life, energy. It’s difficult when you go out to the West Coast and then have a homestand. We’re just getting back into the Eastern time zone again. It takes a while. It was loud and folks were on their feet today. It gives us energy and it really helps a lot.”

NL East Standings

source:

Offensive game of the week: Bryce Harper 5/24 vs. Phillies – 2-for-3, 2 RBI, R, BB

Pitching game of the week: Max Scherzer 5/22 vs. Phillies – 8.0 IP, ER, 4 H, BB, 6 SO. 110 pitches, 79 strikes.

Quote of the week:

Jose Lobaton on what he thinks when Drew Storen enters a game:

“I just see that we’re going to get the save. I think he’s got confidence because he’s been throwing strikes, he’s been throwing good every time catching. You want the ninth. You’re like, ‘Okay, we got Drew.’ He’s our best pitcher now. Kinda like, ‘Yeah, just make the ninth winning and we’re going to win.’ That’s what you want. You want a closer like that.”

Tweet of the week:

Road ahead

MON – 2:20 p.m. at Chicago Cubs (Roark)
TUE – 7:00 p.m. at Chicago Cubs (Zimmermann)
WED – 8:05 p.m. at Chicago Cubs (Scherzer)
THU – OFF
FRI – 7:10 p.m. at Cincinnati Reds (Strasburg)
SAT – 4:10 p.m. at Cincinnati Reds (Gonzalez)
SUN – 1:10 p.m. at Cincinnati Reds (Roark)

  1. knoxvillenat - May 25, 2015 at 10:17 AM

    Taking a road trip to Cincy this weekend to see the Nats. Hoping Strasburg can get himself turned around by Friday’s game.

  2. Drew - May 25, 2015 at 10:51 AM

    Beyond fandom, I like this club. They seem like likeable guys. For instance, Harper tweeted his respect for Bryant’s huge spring training.

    Off topic, here’s some neat Nats news: Trea Turner’s San Antonio Missions lost yesterday on a 2-hit shutout.

    Turner got both hits. He’s hitting .340!
    (He’s also hitting third in their lineup. Man on a mission indeed.)

    If we fast forward a year, assuming Desmond leaves, we could have Esco at short in 2016 with Espinosa at 2b as placeholders.

    A couple of years from now the Difo and Turner show will be fun to watch.

  3. tcostant - May 25, 2015 at 11:19 AM

    Love this stuff. Between this and Boswell’s article today, it so much fun right now.

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

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NEW YORK9072
WASHINGTON83797.0
MIAMI719119.0
ATLANTA679523.0
PHILADELPHIA639927.0

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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