The Washington Nationals swept the New York Mets in the three-game set in Citi Field, and tonight they're back in the nation's capital to start a ten-game homestand with a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Nationals dropped two of three in Atlanta last weekend, but they've won six of their last 10 overall while the Braves have gone 3-7, so the Nats have opened up a 6.0 game lead in the NL East.
As first-year skipper Matt Williams said last night, however, the Nationals aren't taking anything for granted or allowing themselves to feel comfortable with as many games as there are left to play this season.
"We've seen in recent years," Williams said of the 6.0-game division lead, "it doesn't mean anything. All it means is that we have to work harder. And make sure that we take care of our games and play well. So that's our objective."
"I just feel that we've just got to keep playing," Williams explained last night in New York. "I'm proud of them coming here and bouncing back from the Braves series, and now we get a chance to go home for a long homestand, so, they played really well here and that's all we can take from it is that we played well here, now we've got to go do it at home."
The Pirates start the series having lost two straight, and they're 5-5 in the last ten leaving them 64-57 on the year as the series in D.C. starts. The Bucs are currently 2.5 games back in the NL Central, trailing the St. Louis Cardinals (64-56) and the Milwaukee Brewers (67-55). They'll be without Andrew McCutchen this weekend, who was placed on the DL with a fractured rib.
McCutchen's absence is likely a relief for the Nationals, considering that the 27-year-old outfielder has a Stanton-in-D.C.-esque .367/.435/.750 line with six doubles, two triples and 13 HRs in 34 games and 147 career PAs against the Nationals in his career with a .345/.393/.764 line, four doubles, two triples and five home runs in 14 games and 61 PAs in Nationals Park.
Tanner Roark vs Charlie Morton on the mound tonight.
• Here's the Nationals' lineup fro the series opener with the Pirates:
• Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting daily $18,000 Fantasy Baseball leagues. It costs $2 to join and the first-place prize is $2,000. Click here for details.