What to Watch for: 9.9.13
Washington Nationals (73-69) vs. New York Mets (64-77)
LHP Gio Gonzalez (9-6, 3.49) vs. RHP Carlos Torres (3-5, 2.89)
Quietly, the Nationals have played their best extended stretch of baseball over the past calendar month, having won four-of-five, eight-of-12, 13-of-18 and 19 of their last 28 games. Unfortunately, the teams in front of them have continued to win as well, preventing Washington from closing any real ground in the chase for the final playoff spot. Entering the beginning of tonight’s four-game series in New York, Washington trails both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati by eight games in the standings.
There are 20 games remaining in the regular season, as the Nationals follow these four in New York with 10 more at home – against Philadelphia, Atlanta and Miami – then six final road games, three apiece at St. Louis and Arizona. That leaves their elimination number at 12 behind the Reds and 13 behind the Pirates, who have suddenly lost four straight. Washington will have to play the final 20 contests at least eight games better than one of those two clubs to continue their season into October.
1. Denard Span CF
2. Ryan Zimmerman 3B
3. Jayson Werth RF
4. Ian Desmond SS
5. Adam LaRoche 1B
6. Wilson Ramos C
7. Tyler Moore LF
8. Anthony Rendon 2B
9. Gio Gonzalez LHP
Denard Span has hit safely in a career-high 19 straight games at a .397 (31-for-78) clip with five walks, three doubles, two triples, a homer, 12 runs scored and 6 RBI. Span’s surge has raised his batting average from .258 to .279 on the season. The 19-game streak is the longest active streak in MLB and the longest by a National this season.
START ME UP
Wilson Ramos has started 16 consecutive games, the longest streak by a Nationals backstop (2005-present) and the fouth-longest streak by a MLB catcher this season. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina paces that group (22 G, 4/20-5/14). During this stretch, Ramos has clubbed 3 homers and plated 11 RBI.
TURNING 40 SOON
With 39 in hand, Rafael Soriano is just one save away from becoming the third Nationals closer to record 40 saves in a season, joining Chad Cordero (47, ‘05) and Drew Storen (43, ‘11). Soriano eclipsed 40 saves with both the Rays (45, 2010) and Yankees (42, 2012).