BALTIMORE – The Washington Nationals return home for their series with the Baltimore Orioles this week as one of the hottest teams in baseball following a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field over the weekend.
The Nationals capped off their successful trip to Chicago with a 7-5 victory in 11 innings on Aug. 25. That extended their winning streak to five and gave the Nationals their 12th win in their last 14 games. Plus, it put Washington in a solid spot in the Wild Card race with a four-game lead at that point.
But what Manager Dave Martinez was happy with after the last Cubs’ win was how the Nats bounced back after blowing a late lead to score twice in the 11th inning for the victory.
“Resilient; they’re very resilient,” Martinez said. “I’m telling you. I’ve said this all along. They’re not going to quit. That’s who they are.”
A wild pitch scored the go-ahead run in the 11th, and Anthony Rendon followed with an RBI single. That is just the way the Nationals have played since their 19-31 start.
Since that point, Washington has been hot, going 54-26 which is the best 80-game stretch in the team’s history.
And all of that includes the late-game bullpen issues that have cropped up at times. Still, Washington just keeps on winning.
“They feel like they’re never out of any game,” Martinez said. “And that’s the attitude we have. I can tell you know, the attitude I instill is: this game is not over until the last out. Keep playing hard. Anything can happen.”
Villar Joins 20-20 Club
The Baltimore Orioles gained attention mostly for losing this season. But several players have made accomplishments worth noting.
Jonathan Villar is one of them.
On a day when teammate Anthony Santander went 5-for-5 with a home run, Villar banged his 20th homer en route to an 8-3 victory over Tampa Bay on Aug. 25 in Baltimore.
Villar became the sixth player in team history to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases (as of Aug. 27, he now has 28) in that win over the Rays.
The Orioles often bat Villar first or second, but his power gives the team help in different spots. Since the All-Star break, he has 53 hits, and after last weekend was tied with Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor for the most for switch-hitters in either league.
“He’s just a really good player, and he has a ton of tools and can do a ton of things,” Orioles Manager Brandon Hyde said. “His second half has been fantastic.”
United’s Troubles Continue
D.C. United suffered its third straight loss on Aug. 24, as the Philadelphia Union scored a 3-1 victory over the visitors.
The problems began quickly as D.C. United gave up three early goals in the first half and could not find much offense with Wayne Rooney out (suspension). Midfielder Luciano Acosta, who made his first start for the Black-and-Red in three matches, scored the team’s lone goal in the 56th minute.
“When the losses start to pile up, it becomes emotional,” D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen said. “We have to, first and foremost, stay together right now. It’s an easy time to point fingers. I don’t think our group is at that stage. They are able to dig out of this.”
Currently sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, D.C. United still would make the playoffs if the season ended now. But the team’s playoff spot is also slipping away, so they need to turn things around.