Rockies 4, Nationals 3
It wasn’t the way the Nats wanted to close out the first half of the season. But a four-game lead in the National League East? A record 15 games over .500 and best in the league? Best to put this one behind them and not stew too much with four days off before the second half of the season – “the real fun” as manager Davey Johnson called it – begins.
Given the injuries to Drew Storen, Michael Morse, Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos and Jayson Werth, among others, this club would have been hard pressed during spring training to imagine this kind of first half if they had known what was in store.
“Probably not. But that’s the thing, we can’t let the last couple innings we had [Sunday] ruin what we did the last couple months,” said reliever Sean Burnett, still frustrated after allowing two earned runs in the eighth inning as Washington blew a 3-1 lead to the Colorado Rockies. “It’s a little unfortunate what happened, but we had a good first half and a couple days to go home and relax now.”
They will head far and wide, some to vacation spots, some, like shortstop Ian Desmond (Sarasota, Fla) or pitcher Ross Detwiler (St. Louis) or even Johnson (Orlando, Fla.), to their hometowns. Rookie Bryce Harper thought he’d be going to his native Las Vegas, but instead will be part of the All-Star game festivities with teammates Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. Desmond was named a reserve, but will not go to rest a sore left oblique injury.
“I think everybody feels good, and they’re looking for the break,” Johnson said. “They battled hard, and we had a lot of close games. Everybody, from the offense up to the bullpen, the starting pitching, has been outstanding, and a good time for a break. Come back in our division, and I look forward to the second half.”
Indeed, Washington will play 21 of its first 25 games after the break against NL East opponents – a stretch that will go a long way towards determining it’s postseason fate. Kind of a weird end to the first half, however, as the Nats struggled in seven games against Colorado, which has been one of the National League’s worst teams. But they split a four-game series in Denver last week and the Rockies took two of three in Washington despite the Nats’ three best pitchers – Strasburg, Gonzalez and Zimmermann – on the mound this weekend.
“I look at it as good timing,” closer Tyler Clippard said. “You know, I think you don’t ever want to get too comfortable or too confident out there so this is a little, maybe, check, for ourselves. We can kind of regroup and move forward with a new beginning in the second half.”
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