Aug 24, 2015, 12:39 PM EDT
Span looks very close – Denard Span completed his sixth minor league rehab assignment game on Sunday and went 1-for-3 with Double-A Harrisburg. The Nats center fielder is now 7-for-17 (.412) with a homer, three walks, an RBI, six runs and one steal in 20 total plate appearances since he began playing again.
Those are pretty good numbers and that’s a decent sample size. Sure, he could probably use a little more time to recover from the back tightness that landed him on the disabled list on July 7. But the Nats themselves only have 39 games left. If they are going to make a real run for this thing, the time is now.
Span may be still working on his timing, but this year he has played well no matter the circumstances. He missed much of spring training and at times has battled through back pain, yet holds a .304/.367/.430 slash line with five homers, 37 runs, 15 doubles, 24 walks and 11 steals in 59 games.
One can imagine Span will be back very soon, maybe even as early as Tuesday. We have pointed to the Nats’ record with him (35-24) and without him (27-37) this season many times. Getting him back won’t solve everything, but there’s no debating their lineup works a whole lot better with him setting the table.
Shifts do not concern Harper – The Brewers applied some heavy shifts on Bryce Harper during this past weekend’s series, but on Sunday he twice took advantage by hitting the ball the other way for a double. The first came in the third inning when Harper poked a groundball into left field. It would have normally been a groundout if the third baseman was in his normal position, but instead it allowed Harper to reach second and Anthony Rendon to reach third.
Harper also doubled in the fourth on a bloop hit to shallow left field. Again, the Brewers’ gamble with a shift did not work out. Harper talked about beating those shifts after Sunday’s win:
“I really don’t care if there’s guys on the other side or if there are guys on one side. I really don’t. I know I can hit the ball to that side of the field anytime I want. It really doesn’t bother me at all.”
Checking in on the Mets – While the Nats were winning two of three against the Brewers over the weeknd, the Mets were taking care of their own business in Colorado with a three-game sweep. the Mets scored 33 runs combined in those games and have notched at least five runs in eight of their last nine games.
Unfortunately for the Nats, the Mets’ road ahead is more favorable. They go at last-place Philly (50-74), then return home to play last-place Boston (56-68) and then the Phillies again. The Nats, on the other hand, will host 61-63 San Diego and the Marlins before going to St. Louis to play the Cardinals, who own the best record in baseball.
In order to gain some ground over the next two weeks, the Nationals will have to pile up some wins against teams with much better records than the ones the Mets will be facing.
NL East Standings
NL Wild Card Standings:
Offensive game of the week: Yunel Escobar 8/18 vs. Rockies – 3-for-4, HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB.
Pitching game of the week: Stephen Strasburg 8/19 vs. Rockies – 7 IP, R, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 5 SO. 93 pitches, 68 strikes.
Quote of the week:
Trea Turner on getting called up…
[Syracuse manager Billy Gardner] actually just asked me if I’ve ever been to Washington, D.C. before and let me know I was going back there because I had visited once when I was younger. We were watching the new movie ‘Straight Outta Compton.’ It was actually a very good movie, but it made it a little bit better getting that news.
Tweet (Instagram) of the week:
From Yunel Escobar’s Instagram, with the caption: ‘#LoveMyTeam #BeYourself’
MON – OFF
TUE – 7:05 p.m. vs. San Diego Padres (Strasburg)
WED – 7:05 p.m. vs. San Diego Padres (Scherzer)
THU – 7:05 p.m. vs. San Diego Padres (Gonzalez)
FRI – 7:05 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (Ross)
SAT – 7:05 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (Zimmermann)
SUN – 1:35 p.m. vs. Miami Marlins (Strasburg)
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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