Aug 31, 2015, 11:31 AM EDT
Cardinals up next – The Nationals must feel pretty good about themselves coming out of the weekend. They beat the Marlins to secure their fourth consecutive series win. They have now won six of their last eight and nine of their last 12. They even gained a rare game on New York on Saturday, while the Mets have struggled to beat some of the worst teams in baseball in recent days.
But up next is a challenge that could prove as tough as any they have faced this season. Awaiting them in St. Louis is the Cardinals, who at 84-46 are on pace to win 105 games this year. They have at times this season looked like a juggernaut team the likes of which baseball has not seen in quite some time.
The Nationals are on a roll right now, but they have been beating up on teams with losing records. The Cardinals, especially at home, will be a significant test with the calendar about to turn to September.
Here is what a few Nats players said about the upcoming series when asked about it on Sunday…
Clint Robinson: “The Cardinals are a good organization. They always seem to just find a way to win. It’s going to be a tough series, they got a good team, but we’re going to continue to do what we do and just go out and try to play as good baseball as we can and hope to get some wins out of it.”
Jayson Werth: “We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got a tough three-game road trip in St. Louis. We need to keep winning series and keep winning ballgames to give ourselves a chance. I don’t think anybody in here has given up. I think everyone believes in each other and believes in this team. We’ve got a long way to go.”
The Cardinals have been led this season by the best starting rotation in baseball. Their starting staff as a group holds a 2.79 ERA, which is better than Max Scherzer’s season mark of 2.88.
In fact, all three starters the Cardinals will roll out this week against the Nats have sub-3.00 ERAs. Here are the pitching matchups:
Game 1 – LHP Gio Gonzalez (9-7, 4.11) vs. RHP John Lackey (11-8, 2.92)
Game 2 – RHP Joe Ross (5-5, 3.24) vs. RHP Carlos Martinez (13-6, 2.91)
Game 3 – RHP Max Scherzer (11-11, 2.88) vs. RHP Michael Wacha (12-4, 2.69)
Scherzer vs. Wacha in the series finale? Yeah, that’ll do.
Werth continues to thrive batting leadoff – The Nationals lost Denard Span for the season last week, which was a significant blow as the head into the final month of the schedule. But they may have a pretty decent backup plan for the leadoff spot in Werth.
Werth has continued to find success at the top of the Nationals’ order. He is now 13-for-40 with five doubles, two homers, seven RBI and six walks in 10 games hitting there this season. That’s 13-for-40, or in other words a .325 average. Compare that to his .209 clip for the season and it appears the Nats may be on to something.
Werth is also hitting for more power in general as of late. In his past four games he has two homers, two doubles and four RBI. Werth talked about hitting for power after Sunday’s win:
“I felt good. I felt like I’ve had power. In ’12 when I broke my wrist and had the surgery, I definitely didn’t feel that way. I’ve felt good really this whole time, just the results weren’t there. But I felt close, my timing has been good and all that. Hopefully we’ll get on track here and keep rolling and help this team get to where it needs to be.”
NL East Standings
NL Wild Card Standings:
Offensive game of the week: Jayson Werth 8/30 vs. Marlins – 2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2B, 2 R, BB.
Pitching game of the week: Joe Ross 8/27 vs. Padres- 6 IP, R, 0 ER, H, 2 BB, 7 SO. 77 pitches, 48 strikes.
Quote of the week:
I didn’t think about it until just reading some people’s comments on Twitter. That Wednesday night I didn’t think that it was going to be my last game. I didn’t have time to process that because I had so much other stuff going on. But the last couple of days it has been entering my mind, just seeing everybody’s well wishes and seeing people on Twitter appreciating me for what I brought to this organization on and off the field. It has made me sad because I’ve enjoyed my three years here. I feel like coming here really resurrected my career. Coming from Minnesota, this trade was probably the best thing for me at the time. I’ve learned a lot here from the coaching staff and my teammates. It’s just been a good time here.
Tweet of the week:
Ian Desmond on Sunday after drawing three walks for just the second time in his career:
— Ian Desmond (@IDesmond20) August 30, 2015
MON – 8:15 p.m. at St. Louis Cardinals (Gonzalez)
TUE – 8:15 p.m. at St. Louis Cardinals (Ross)
WED – 8:15 p.m. at St. Louis Cardinals (Scherzer)
THU – 7:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves (Zimmermann)
FRI – 7:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves (Strasburg)
SAT – 7:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves (Gonzalez)
SUN – 1:35 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves (Ross)
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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