Monday's loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks was not only an unfortunate way for the Nats to kick off a homestand, it pushed them to second place in the NL East for the first time since June 19. That's a cold reality check after over six weeks of sitting in first place.
But despite that fact, the Nationals are not ready to start scoreboard watching with the pennant race heating up. Monday was Game No. 104 of the season, they have 58 more to go and they aren't ready to panic just because the New York Mets are starting to apply pressure on them.
"We just really gotta try to stay within our team," Bryce Harper said. "I don't really give a crap about what the Mets are doing or the Dodgers, the Giants, or Texas, or anybody. I could really care less. I know what type of team we are, our capability of going into every single game and having the confidence to win ballgames. Playing guys like [Arizona] that has a losing record, we've got to win these ballgames. We've got to scratch and fight and claw just try to win these games. Hopefully we can do that the rest of the time we're here."
"It's beginning of August," Ryan Zimmerman said. "I think we just play every day and try to win that game, and at the end of the year we'll see where we're at. There's 50-something games left, and we're a game out. Give me that situation every year, and I'll take it every year."
The Nationals are no strangers to close division races at this point in the season. In 2014, when they finished with the best record in the NL at 96-66, they were up on the Braves by just half-a-game after No. 104. They were 57-47 at the time and closed the year on a 39-19 tear.
"It can all change tomorrow," Matt Williams said. "At this point, it feels like second place. That's where we're at, so we'll try to get back to where we want to be starting tomorrow."
"That’s not good, but it’s not the end of the season. We still have quite a bit of time left and we need to go out here every day and make sure we get our business done," Doug Fister said.
The Nationals have lost 11 of their last 16 while the Mets have won four straight and seven of their last nine. There is plenty of time left, but the two teams seem to be heading in different directions at the moment.