First it was Thursday night, then the Washington Nationals were looking at back-to-back rainouts.
Which is exactly what they’ve needed.
In Baseball, playing five or six games out of seven days is a huge double-edged sword. When a team is winning, it’s great, because they’re able to carry those good vibes into game after game, but when a team struggles, it’s hard to build up momentum, because the team needs much more positive momentum, everything has to go right. The starter has to go deep into a game; the offense needs to be a machine; the bullpen needs to be lights out. When a team is winning, it’s much easier to overcome any of these three factors being unproductive.
Look at Washington’s month-by-month schedule this year. The first full week of May, for example, we see them sweep the Detroit Tigers in a two-game series, outscoring one of the most powerful offenses in baseball, 7-5. That has to be a confidence boost if I’ve ever seen one, right? Wrong. That very same week, following the Tigers series, in fact, the Nationals lose two of three to the Chicago Cubs, a team they absolutely dominated in a four-game sweep in 2012, and were outscored 13-10, losing one game 8-2 and another 2-1. The Cubs at the time were 13-22 going into the series, the Nationals: 20-15. Following that disappointing series, Washington went out west, and finished a 10-game trip 4-6, not winning a single series.
The fact is that, in baseball, wins and losses compound, with losses compounding faster than wins because of how easy it is to have everything go wrong when a team plays almost daily. Going into Thursday’s finale with the New York Mets, Washington had only six off days, none back to back, which is normal. The consecutive rainouts allows the Nationals to sit back and relax and really hit the reset button on their season, make today’s game the first day of the rest of their season. Of course, they do play a double header tomorrow, but that’s also good because they can attempt to bring good vibes from one (hopeful) win into another game on the same day.
In 2012, the Nationals were 3-3 in doubleheaders, scoring a combined 23 runs, and somehow managing to allow the same amount of runs. That strange stat aside, the bottom line is this: The Nationals have an opportunity to use the last two days as a means of reviving their less than stellar season. The question is whether they can do it.
Today being an important day in Nationals history, the three-year anniversary of the 14 strikeout, seven-inning debut of Stephen Strasburg, let’s hope Washington can start something special today.