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Nats gain a rare game on the Mets with win over Marlins

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Nats gain a rare game on the Mets with win over Marlins

Ten days over the course of a six-month baseball season is not a long time, but in a pennant race it can seem like an eternity. For the Nats, that's how long it took for them to finally gain a game in the NL East on the New York Mets, who lately seem like they just do not lose.

But on Saturday they did lose, their second game in a row as a matter of fact. And now they face a potential sweep at the hands of the last-place Boston Red Sox. Their loss, combined with the Nats' 5-1 over the Miami Marlins, cut the division deficit to 5 1/2 games. The Nats now enter Sunday with a chance to win their fourth consecutive series.

The Nats suffered a bad loss on Friday night, but here they are with another series victory ready for the taking. Winning each series for the rest of the season has been their mantra for the last several weeks, a message the team's veterans have preached on almost a daily basis. 

So far, so good.

"It’s the big leagues, you’re not gonna win every single game. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing the Marlins or the Cardinals," Ryan Zimmerman said. "It’s not possible to win every single game at this level. We’re gonna lose. Just try and win series and go from there."

"You’re not gonna go perfect in this game. You can’t expect to go out and sweep a team every single time you play them," Clint Robinson said. "There’s gonna be losses and we’re not gonna win out the rest of the year, I’m sure. It would be great if we did but more than likely not gonna happen. We just go out and take care of our business."

Before losing their two most recent games to Boston, the Mets had won seven straight. They have the best offense in baseball since they traded for Yoenis Cespedes and set a franchise record for homers in a month four days before August was over. They have at times looked unstoppable, like a team that could run away with the division and leave the Nats far behind.

That could still very well happen, but this weekend has opened the Nats' window ever so slightly. They keep tabs on how the Mets are doing and were well-aware that New York had lost earlier in the afternoon.

"I don’t know about everybody else but I [check the scores]. That’s who we’re chasing in the playoff race," Robinson said. "If I see that they lost and it’s a chance for us to gain a game, absolutely. I want that just as bad as I do any other win. We saw it and it’s just a good opportunity for us to gain a game and we went out and got it."

"Everybody knows," manager Matt Williams said. "If we win, we have opportunity to do that. If we don't, then we don't. Tomorrow's another opportunity. If we can win that one, then we can have that same chance tomorrow, as well."

The Nats have a good chance to keep it going on Sunday with Stephen Strasburg on the mound. He has been far and away their best starting pitcher since he returned from the disabled list on Aug. 8. Starting for Miami will be Brad Hand, who has a 4.23 ERA and was in the Marlins' bullpen as of a month ago.

Time and time again this season many have pointed to an opportunity ahead of the Nats, a chance to take advantage of a matchup at an advantageous time. Winners of five of their last seven, perhaps the time is now.

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported, the next step in our long journey to Opening Day is the spring training games themselves. Not every game is televised, so get ready to follow along with your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll still be exciting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Bryce Harper homered again, or if Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings (spoiler: both of these will happen).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing contracts in the next few weeks. The Nats are always willing to make a big splash, and even beyond the available free agents, have been linked to impact players like J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the roster has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be happening while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for their seasons, so bookmark this page to check on the Nationals spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Nationals 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Braves at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Feb. 26 - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 1 (SS) - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Tigers at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Monday, Mar. 5 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 6 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Nationals at Tigers, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 13 (SS) - Mets at Nationals, 7:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 (SS) - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Mar. 17 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (ESPN2) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Nationals at Mets, 6:10 pm
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 - Nationals at Marlins, 7:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 27 (at Nationals Park) - Twins at Nationals, 4:05 pm