With the win yesterday the Nats have now won eight games in a row which is good for the clubs second longest winning streak since moving to Washington (the longest was 10 games in 2005).
The club has now crawled its way up to 40 wins, and at 22.5 games back they are actually no longer the team furthest out of a division lead in Major League Baseball. That distinction belongs to our neighbors of the north, the Baltimore Orioles (46-65), who stand 23 games behind the Yankees.
The Nationals are now only three games behind the Kansas City Royals (43-68) for the dubious distinction of the worst club in baseball.
Adam Dunn summed the win streak up best after the game Sunday....
“It’s everyone finally just saying: ‘What do we have to lose? We can’t play any worse than we’re playing….I knew we were capable of playing like this, I wish we would have played loose and had fun early in the year, and we wouldn’t be how many games back” he said.
The change has obviously come after the switch was made to bring in Jim Riggleman and oust Manny Acta. As Dunn has said there is a clear change in mentality and approach over the last four weeks and from what we can see it's working.
This could be because Riggleman is a better manager, has a better bond with the players, or cares more.
Or it could be a result of what the Majority of Nats bloggers, fans, and even haters have been saying since late May; you can’t win under a manager who has lost the faith of his fans and players.
Like Adam said, the team just wasn’t playing loose.
How could they? There was so much pressure once the season started to be better than they were in 2008. Then when they started losing, there was pressure to start winning, to stop being an embarrassment.
Once the Nationals started losing, Many Acta became the poster child of their failures, the image of the pressures placed on the Nats to get out of what essentially was the worlds worst slump. Eventually his presence had to be a huge subconscious cause of playing losing baseball. As Adam said they are playing now with nothing to lose, that couldn’t have been the case with Acta still in office. The club was playing to not get their manager that they cared about fired. That’s a lot of pressure, they weren’t loose, they had the Manny Acta cloud hanging over them.
It’s been lifted. As sad as it may be for Acta. The Nationals are now playing with nothing to lose, and for the first time all season, they’re starting to not to.
(Thanks to Lucky Jarmes for the picture)