The Nationals took the series from the Marlins today to go 17-14 for a 2nd place tie in the NL East with the Mets. The Nats travel to New York tonight for the start of a 9 game road trip. The Nats will take on those very Mets in 3 game series starting on Monday. That will tell a lot about where this early part of the season is going for the Nats, so watch closely.
Let's go a little with today's game against the Marlins. The Nats took an early lead, as they have done so often this season, in the 2nd inning with a sacrifice double play (weird to think of that, but it's possible) that scored Nyjer Morgan. They got another run in the 3rd with an Adam Dunn RBI single through the shift that scored Adam Kennedy from 2nd. Then Livan Hernandez, who had yet another simply amazing outing, gave up a solo home run to who else, but Hanley Ramirez. That was the only run that Livan gave up all day, bringing his ERA allll the way up to... 1.04. Wow. That's 2nd in the NL only to Ubaldo Jimenez. After 7 innings of 1 run, 5 hit ball, Livan called it a day after 110 pitches, 75 of them for strikes. Time to Clipp and Save, right? Well... maybe not so easy.
Tyler Clippard entered the game after Sean Burnett gave up a single in the top of the 8th. Then Clippard immediately gave up a single to Wes Helms and walked Hanley Ramirez to load the bases. With no outs. Clippard has gotten himself into this spot one too many times this year (see tomorrow morning's post for more on this), and his offense has bailed him out every, single time. Clippard ended up giving up a sac fly that tied the game 2-2 before he got himself out of the jam. But the Hammer was out to save the day.
Willingham came up in the bottom of the inning with 1 out and crushed a home run to left field into the wind, eventually giving the Nats the 3-2 win. Capps came in and had a painless 1, 2, 3 inning and got his MLB leading 13th save of the year, and the Nats moved to 3 games over .500 for the 2nd time this year. It was a great (although cold and windy) day for baseball in the city, and the team went 4-2 on the homestand. They hope to do the same thing on the road trip, but it will be difficult with a 3 game series with Mets (who are playing very good baseball right now), a 4 game series with the Rockies, and a 2 game series against the Cardinals. If the Nats can come out on top here, it's really going to speak volumes about where the club is going this season.