Despite being 14-games under .500 since the All-Star break, the Washington Nationals are very much alive in the National League wild card race.
After a key weekend series win, the Nationals hope to build on the momentum as they begin a four-game set with the Florida Marlins.
Washington took two of three from wild-card leader Philadelphia, including Sunday’s 6-1 victory.
“We can make do with the pitching,” Washington manager Frank Robinson said. “But if the offense does not consistently produce for us in ballgames, we’re not going anywhere.”
With their victory Sunday, the Nationals enter their series with the Marlins, just two games behind Philadelphia for the NL Wild Card lead.
The Marlins, who are a half-game behind the Phillies, failed to complete a three-game sweep of the Mets, falling 7-1 on Sunday.
“We’re playing all the teams that are right there with us,” center fielder Juan Pierre said. “You can handle your business and control your destiny. That’s what you want to do in September. This is the road trip to do that.”
For Florida to have any shot of winning the wild card, it will need A.J. Burnett and Josh Beckett to start pitching better. They are a combined 0-5 in their past six starts.
“We’ve got to get Beckett and Burnett to come through for us to give us an opportunity,” manager Jack McKeon said.
Washington could use a win from Livan Hernandez, who is just 1-2 over his last five starts.
“I have pitched a lot of good games, but lose,” Hernandez said. “But the most important thing is for the team to win.”
Hernandez is just 1-1 with a 3.10 ERA in four starts against the Marlins this season, but the Nationals have won three of those games.