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Maybe the NL East race isn’t over just yet

Sep 23, 2012, 6:22 PM EST

Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper Getty Images

The Braves beat the Phillies 2-1 on Sunday to pull within 4 1/2 games of the Nationals in the NL East. With Chien-Ming Wang getting a spot start, the Nationals lost to the Brewers 6-2.

Now, with a five-game lead in the loss column and just 10 left to play, the Nationals are still sitting pretty. However, just look at the remaining schedules for both:

Washington: vs. Mil, 3 @Phi, 3 @StL, 3 vs. Phi
Atlanta: 3 vs. Mia, 3 vs. NYM, 3 @Pit

While the Phillies have dropped from three games to five games back of the Cardinals in the wild card by losing to the Braves the last two days, they’re not giving up yet. Perhaps they will be the time that last series of the season rolls around. But for now, the Nationals have at least seven more tough games ahead of them.

The Braves, on the other hand, got three of baseball’s coldest teams left on the schedule. The Mets have won three in a row, but that’s only because they’ve been facing the Marlins.

Atlanta could well go 8-1 to finish the season. If that happens, the Nationals would need to go 5-5 to win the division outright.

Maybe it won’t materialize. The Braves, for what it’s worth, have already lined up their rotation so that Kris Medlen would start the one-game wild card playoff. They’re not going to go all out and play Chipper Jones nine straight in an attempt to overtake the Nationals. They might drift a bit and lose a couple to inferior teams. If so, the Nationals would have nothing to worry about. Still, until that happens, it’d probably be for the best that we don’t see Wang on the mound again.

  1. nothanksimdriving123 - Sep 23, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    As the great Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said many centuries ago: It ain’t over ’til it’s over. Since the Nats dropped that series in Georgia recently, they’ve not given their fans much reason for confidence.

    • Old Gator - Sep 23, 2012 at 7:45 PM

      That was Yogi Berra – it’s easy to see how you can make that mistake because they both sit the same way.

    • natslady - Sep 23, 2012 at 8:31 PM

      Such beautiful autumn day in DC, except, except the sun blinded the Nats outfielders–and the baby panda died. Chien-Ming Wang pitched quite well.

      • dcfan4life - Sep 23, 2012 at 8:55 PM

        Giving up 2 runs in 4 innings to lower his ERA to 6.60 on 69 pitches. I mean did you see something i didnt? Wang has been a filler, he wont be on the postseason roster.

      • 18thstreet - Sep 24, 2012 at 9:37 AM

        It’s really a shame that they didn’t have another healthy starter available who might have pitched better than Wang.

        Oh, well.

  2. number42is1 - Sep 23, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    “it’d probably be for the best that we don’t see Wang on the mound again.”

    Yes folks… he just said that.

    • Old Gator - Sep 23, 2012 at 7:47 PM

      Matthew Pouliot, this here is my old pal Jake Barnes. Jake Barnes, this here is Matthew Pouliot. I’ll just leave you guys here to sip absinthe and get to know each other.

  3. kevinleaptrot - Sep 23, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    I was at Nats Park for Saturday’s game and the team was really fired up to get the W for Gio. I think today was a little bit of an emotional letdown. Don’t think Wang’s english is very good and it seems like he hasn’t bonded with his teammates as well as the others have and that may have something to do with it. Really a shame that Wang hasn’t been able to build on the success that he had in the last few games that he pitched last season. Probably won’t be seeing any more Wang on the mound for the Nats, but I look for them to bounce back tomorrow and position themselves to clinch the division while they’re in Philly. That would truly be sweet.

  4. willclarkgameface - Sep 23, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    For the love of God and all that is holy in this universe, I hope Atlanta puts the Nats and Rizzo in their proper place: SECOND.

    GO BRAVES!

    • prionogenic - Sep 23, 2012 at 10:47 PM

      I would love them to get bounced in the play-in game especially after all the trash talking this year and for mishandling Strasburg.

  5. xmatt0926x - Sep 23, 2012 at 11:16 PM

    When the Phillies traded Pence and Victorino at the deadline, Davey Johnson was quoted in a story in the Washington Post as saying “I loved watching it”. He also said he would have a talk with Charlie Manuel (apparently an old friend) and ask him how it felt to be looking up at the Nats in the division. That all may have been said in competitive good fun but how much would Manuel enjoy shoving those words right up Davey’s ass and costing them the division?

  6. akismet-e6748cca3a16ea6e8283008d25583adc - Sep 24, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    Please. A team that’s played .600 ball all year would have to play “merely” .500 baseball while the Braves nearly have to win out in order for the Nats not to win the division. The Nats dominated St. Louis earlier this season and the odds of Philadelphia still caring by the final home series are close to nil. I see the Nats cruising to the end of the season continuing to play above .500 ball (they’re 12-9 on the month) and setting up their rotation for the playoffs.

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