Nationals Notebook: The dessert is delicious

Sometimes, finishing with a flourish can color the rest of the experience.

Years ago, I had dinner with my brother and mother in Baltimore and the meal was subpar. We picked up cannolis on the way back to my car, and they were so delicious they wiped out whatever bad vibes we had from the meal.

The Nationals may still be sub-500 and tied for last place in the NL East, but at least they’re delivering the dessert.

So far this year, six of the team’s 16 wins have come in series finales, and they’ve won the getaway game in five of their most recent seven series. Sometimes that means taking the series or securing a split, while other times it means completing a sweep or (gulp) avoiding a sweep.

This week two disappointing losses to Philadelphia aren’t as depressing after Thursday’s win in D.C., just like Saturday’s 11-4 rout by Arizona is diminished thanks to Sunday’s 3-0 win over the Diamondbacks.

The way the NL East race (five teams within three games of one another with only the Marlins enjoying a positive run differential) is shaping up, every win is going to matter come the end of September. And while the Nats have endured many a subpar meal this spring, at least they’re getting a good dessert.

Digesting the division: Despite getting swept by Tampa Bay, the New York Mets still lead the NL East at 18-16. They’re doing so thanks to a pitching staff that ranks second in the majors in ERA, while the team remains dead last in runs scored. Philadelphia (21-20) remains a half game back after consecutive losses. In taking two of three from the Nats last week, it was Odubel Herrera (. 417 with 4 runs scored) and Andrew Knapp (team-high 4 RBI) that produced at the plate. Atlanta (19-20) and Miami (18-22) are both under .500, but are each within three games of the division lead. The Nats (16-20) may be in last but are off to better starts than they were in each of the last two seasons.

O’s woes: Baltimore began the week the same way they ended it-by avoiding a sweep at the hands of an AL East foe. But in between Monday’s win over Boston and Sunday’s victory over the New York Yankees, there was nothing but defeat. The miniseries sweep at the New York Mets provided the worst of both worlds: Tuesday the bullpen blew a late 2-0 lead and Wednesday Matt Harvey melted in the midafternoon sun en route to a blowout loss.

Say isn’t that?: There was a reunion in Chicago as White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton met up with Kansas City’s Michael A. Taylor. The winner by “split decision” was Eaton, who hit 1-5 with two walks and a run scored while Taylor batted 1-7 with a homer. Turner’s swing and a miss issues that plagued his time in D.C. are resurfacing: He had 5 K’s in 7 at bats against Chicago over the weekend, and has struck out 12 time in 18 at bats over the last week. Wilmer Difo may have hit .133 last week for Pittsburgh, but he’s proving his worth as a versatile puzzle piece having logged three games at second, six at third, four in center field and two others in right. Pirates pitcher Will Crowe coughed up three runs in five innings in his lone start of the week. Sean Doolittle brought a mixed bag, allowing two earned runs over 3.2 innings while notching a win and blowing a save.

Last week’s heroes: Trea Turner hit .423 while driving in six runs. I know in theory the team would benefit more with him hitting second or third (from having guys on base in front of him), but some players just own the leadoff spot. And Trea is golden there. Kyle Schwarber hit .333 while his 6 RBI tied with Turner for the team lead. Andrew Stevenson in his limited chances hit 4-10 with a homer and 3 RBI. Patrick Corbin was dominant with nine strikeouts over seven innings to help the Nats avoid getting swept by Philadelphia. He also went on paternity leave Friday as his wife gave birth to their son. Erick Fedde tossed seven scoreless frames Sunday in Arizona to give the Nationals the series win and rookie Sam Clay posted three appearances where he didn’t allow an earned run.

Last week’s humbled: Joe Ross had one rough start Saturday, allowing eight runs over four innings at Arizona. Kyle Finnegan allowed 4 runs over 1.1 innings of relief. Jordy Mercer (1-10) didn’t provide the necessary spark at second base and Ryan Zimmerman hit .167. We also still don’t have a hard opening date of The Salt Line in Ballston.

Game to watch: Wednesday Max Scherzer takes to the mound at Wrigley Field against Jake Arrieta. While Arrieta is no Max, he is 4-3 on the season. With the exception of his April 30 implosion at Cincinnati, the 35-year old has a 2.64 ERA this year. I know there’s a Caps game that night, but I’m going to watch two 30-something pitchers in the May air duel.

Game to miss: Thursday afternoon Joe Ross (5.80 ERA) tries to right his season against a guy having a tougher 2021 in Trevor Williams (6.27 ERA). With the Orioles dropping by the district this weekend, I very well take a break and watch the replay of Caps-Bruins.

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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