Nationals Notebook: Flirting with .500

Washington Nationals' CJ Abrams sprints home to score on a single by Washington Nationals' Luis Garcia Jr. in the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, April 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)(AP/Tony Gutierrez)

The Washington Nationals’ 11-8 win over Toronto on Sunday puts them at .500 for the third time in the last week. Now, while a 17-17 start is hardly one that parades are held for, it represents progress for a franchise that has posted four-straight last place finishes since winning the World Series in 2019.

Even more encouraging is the 23 runs scored over the weekend, after they were held to just a pair of runs in three games at Texas. But while the club is making progress, they still have a way to go.

The Nats also get a peek at where they want to be in a few years, with the AL East-leading Orioles coming to Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Nationals haven’t been over .500 since they were 40-39 in early July of 2021. Can they make that move this week?

Digesting the Division: Philadelphia (24-11) moves into first place, but loses Trea Turner for six weeks with a hamstring injury. The shortstop was leading the team in runs scored and stolen bases while ranking second in batting average.

Six weeks is a long time when Atlanta (20-12) is nipping on your heels, although the Braves were swept by the Dodgers after losing two of three in Seattle. Washington (17-17) moved ahead of the New York Mets (16-18) for third place while the Mets have dropped 10 of 14.

Could Miami (10-26) be catching fire with four wins in six games?

Break up the Birds: The Orioles (23-11) took three of four games from the New York Yankees at Camden Yards to move into first place in the AL East. The pitching staff followed up allowing just six runs over four games by holding Cincinnati to two runs over three games in a weekend sweep.

Gunnar Henderson (10 homers with 24 RBI) was also named American League Player of the Month for April. And they drop by The District this week. Expecting plenty of O’s during the national anthem.

Diamonds Direct Diamond King of the Week: Luis Garcia Jr. hit .563 while hitting two homers with nine RBI.

Last Week’s Heroes: C.J. Abrams scored five runs while driving in four and Jesse Winker drove in five runs while scoring four times. Trevor Williams tossed five scoreless innings in his lone start, while Jake Irvin allowed a pair of runs over 11 frames. Kyle Finnegan threw two scoreless innings while tallying two saves.

Last Week’s Humbled: Tanner Rainey and Matt Barnes each allowed three runs over two innings of work. Keibert Ruiz hit .080, while Trey Lipscomb batted .056.

Game to Watch: Tuesday the Nats host AL East-leading Baltimore and they’ll be wearing their City Connect uniforms (hold your excitement). The mini-series opener pits Trevor Williams (3-0, 2.27 ERA) against Corbin Burnes (3-1, 2.61). It’s a chance to see how far the Nats have come.

Game to Miss: Friday, the Nats visit Boston and Patrick Corbin (0-3, 6.45 ERA) tries to post his first win of the season. The Red Sox start Tanner Houck, who might own a 1.99 ERA but also wears the number 89.

What is this, Spring Training? We’ll be enjoying an evening at the Waterfront.

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Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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