The disappointment was understandable. This was the most anticipated series in the District, after all, since the sport returned here in 2005. But let's not take this too far. All that happened was Washington lost three baseball games. This wasn't a referendum on whether the Nats are ready to win a playoff series -- or even make it to the postseason at all.
How do we know that? Because it was three games in mid-June, and with 162 to play they never mean that much when taken as a small group. Losing to a quality team like the Yankees says no more about Washington than sweeping the Red Sox in Boston the week before. Baseball teams build their credibility over weeks and months, and then when they reach the playoffs, it sometimes matters little anyway. The St. Louis Cardinals topped 100 wins in both 2004 and 2005. Yet they actually won the World Series in 2006 with an 83-win club that got hot at the right time. Take two out of three against Tampa Bay this week and no one even remembers the Yankees series happened. That's how several Nats players feel anyway.
"I think this team is past that kind of stuff," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "We played bad this weekend. We lost three games to a really good team. It happened. We have a day off [Monday]. We'll come back on Tuesday and be ready to go."
It doesn't hurt that Washington came out of the weekend still four games ahead of second-place Atlanta, lost just one game in the standings to third-place Miami and didn't lose any ground to the New York Mets or Philadelphia Phillies, both of whom also were swept.
"The season's not over, definitely, just because we got swept," starting pitcher Edwin Jackson said. "It's one series. If I can think right, it's the first series we lost in the last [five]. As far as we're concerned, it's over."
- Brian McNally