The Washington Nationals are 13-10 in September. They've lost 7 of 11. Following the three-game sweep on the road in Atlanta (on a road trip on which they were 3-3), the Nats are 4-4 in the their last eight games. They're 1-6 in the last seven against their NL East rivals from Philadelphia with five games left against the Phillies before the end of the season. They have a 4.0 game lead over the Braves with eight games remaining and a magic number of 5 to clinch the division. Still their recent "struggles" have some wondering just how this season will end. 106.7 the FAN In D.C.'s Holden Kushner asked D.C. GM Mike Rizzo this morning on The Mike Rizzo Show to help his co-host Danny Rouhier to step back from the DOOOM! ledge and tell fans why there was no reason to panic just yet.
"We've got a pretty good team here," Rizzo told the hosts and listeners, referring to the NL East's 1st Place Nats, "We have to take care of our business. We're playing some tough teams down the stretch and we've got to play good baseball and we play our game and things fall into place and take care of themselves." Asked if the Nationals would do anything differently down the stretch, the GM assured the hosts, "We're going to do everything that we've been doing. Repetition is the same, our focus is the same, our preparation is the same. We look forward to today's game, then to this series and then we'll move on to the Cardinals series. We've been, this whole season, all about taking series. And that's our total focus right now and we're focusing on tonight's game and then the series after that."
Are you fears not assuaged? Davey Johnson was asked the same thing on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Sports Junkies this morning and he said again as he did earlier this week that it is all part of the learning experience. "A lot of times it [comes] down to pitching," Johnson told the hosts, "And that was kind of... you saw a young pitcher's inexperience [last night]. Walked a lot of guys, more throwing than pitching. That happens. This is a kind of growing up year. We're in a pennant race. It's supposed to be exciting and tight like this. That's the way it is."
"You can win just one game and go into the playoffs and you can be on a roll," Johnson said, "The way you finish up is really kind of a measurement of how you played all year. And we're going to finish up strong just like we've played strong all year. I like the attitude on the ballclub. Every game we play is a big game. We need to win this division. No joking. That's all we're after."
Asked if he was comfortable with the Nationals' position and when he would start getting concerned about the way the Nationals are playing, the Nats' 69-year-old skipper said simply, "One thing about baseball, you never take anything for granted. I'm not comfortable. I won't be comfortable until that magic number is zero."
• Hear the rest of Davey Johnson's interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Sports Fix: