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No history: Washington vs St. Louis, Nationals' managers on the "Cardinal Way"

Each Friday, we write a column over at MASNSports.com's Nationals Buzz. The latest one just went up over there this morning. We looked at the history between the Nationals and Cardinals through the eyes of the Nats' last two skippers...

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With wins in two of the three games in the nation's capital this week, the St. Louis Cardinals improved to 16-7 against the Washington Nationals since 2012.

Different rosters, different managers, for the Nats at least, but the same outcome. Over the last several years, the Cards have held an edge in the head-to-head series.

The 2012 NL East Champion Nationals actually took four of seven from the Cardinals that season, and the NLDS with St. Louis went five games, ending of course, when the Nats blew a big lead and exited their first postseason run in 79 years with a loss to the Cards.

In 2013, St. Louis swept the six-game regular season series between the two teams, outscoring Washington 19-8 in what was Davey Johnson's final season on the bench in D.C..

"I'll tell ya, they just kicked our butt. Just about every aspect of the game, they beat up on us. And I tip my hat to them, [Mike] Matheny has done a good job over there." -Davey Johnson after loss to Cardinals, September 2013

Going into the final three games of the season with the Cardinals that September, Johnson was asked if he had an axe to grind with the Cards after the NLDS and the sweep of the three-game set that April.

"Not really," he laughed. "I mean, first of all, they swept us here, and then they didn't do us any favors last year. So, I'd like to get back on even keel with them."

Though he hoped they could muddy the playoff picture for the Cardinals, who hadn't yet secured a postseason berth, it didn't work out that way and Johnson was as honest about the results afterwards as he was about his intentions going in.

"I'll tell ya," Johnson said after the third straight loss, "they just kicked our butt. Just about every aspect of the game, they beat up on us. And I tip my hat to them, [Mike] Matheny has done a good job over there. I wish him luck."

Johnson's involvement in the rivalry ended there.

The Nationals split a four-game set with the Cardinals in D.C. the first time they played each other in 2014 with Matt Williams on the bench.

When the Nats broke a seven-game regular-season losing streak with a win over the Cards in the second game of the series, Williams made clear that any history between the two franchises was in the past at that point.

"I don't pay attention to those things," he said. "But they're a tough team to beat, that's the reason they've been in the playoffs and they've been so good is they do things right and we just happened to take advantage of one tonight."

"I describe their team as fundamentally sound, in all aspects. Their starting pitching is good. They've got a good back end of the bullpen. As evidenced last night, they catch the ball, they make great plays." - Matt Williams

Creating and taking advantage of opportunities is and has been a common refrain from Williams, who said much the same when asked about struggling against St. Louis after the Cardinals swept the final three games of the year between the two teams in Busch Stadium in June of 2014.

"I don't have that history," Williams said, "but they pitched well. In this three-game series anyway they pitched well.

"We split with them at home and they got us here, but that's the secret to their team. They do well with guys in scoring position and they've got great starters and a back of a bullpen that can close games out. That's a pretty good formula for success. We had some chances though."

All the history came up again when the Cardinals took two of three in D.C. this week. Williams was asked before the series finale on Thursday about the so-called "Cardinal Way" of doing things and why St. Louis continues to enjoy success as a franchise.

"I describe their team as fundamentally sound, in all aspects," he said. "Their starting pitching is good. They've got a good back end of the bullpen. As evidenced last night, they catch the ball, they make great plays.

"They have good balance in their lineup where they've got some power, they've got some speed, they have the ability to hit and run, they've got some guys that handle the bat really well. So that balance is certainly there and they're tough to beat. We run out there today hoping that we've got our ace going and to take two of three from these guys would be a good series for us. But we've still got to do it right because we know that they're going to do it right."

The Nationals dropped Thursday's game, but afterwards, Williams' message remained the same, the history doesn't matter, only the results each day do.

"I haven't been here the whole time, so I don't know," he said of the overall record against the Cards in the past few seasons.

"What I can say to that question is, we get guys on first and third, we've got to get them in. And we can't kick the ball, we have to play good defense... against the Cardinals or anybody else. You're setting yourself up for being on the wrong end of the stick if you don't do those things. So, against them or any other team if we don't execute properly it's harder to win games."

"We had opportunities, a lot of opportunities today and we didn't come through for him. Just keep doing that though. We'll come through."

Here's a link to the article over at MASNSports.com's Nationals Buzz: