Winning Ugly Is Just Fine With the Washington Nationals

By James Williams
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

There are no judges in baseball that give out style points. It is a sport that is measured in wins and losses over a grueling 162 game schedule.  With 30 games left in 2013, the Washington Nationals‘ goal is to get victories in any way they can. Washington trails the Cincinnati Reds by seven games in the quest to nail down the final Wild Card spot, so wins, no matter how they get them, all count as the same.

My Rant Sports colleague Brian Skinnell penned a good column worth reading about how the Nationals and the Miami Marlins were so weak at driving in runs. Good point, but as I have said before, it is all about winning for Washington, so if they strand eight men on base but win that is fine.       

The Nationals are doing now what they did so often last season and that is “wining ugly.”

Thus far this week they have been good enough to win two one-run games over the Miami Marlins, a 2-1 nail bitter on Tuesday then last night’s win over Miami that saw rain knock Stephen Strasburg out of the game after just two innings.

Manager Davey Johnson has a hard rule and that is if a rain delay lasts for more than an hour then the starting pitcher is finished for the night.

After an hour and seven minute rain delay, it looked like the game was being played on a giant green slip and slide. The Nationals were able to do something they have not done often this season, they found a way to win the game 4-3.

In last year’s 98 win season the Nationals played and won more one run games than any other team in the National League. As Washington was marching to its first National League East championship, their fans were drinking more Maalox than beer.

The 2012 Nationals were ranked in the top five in come from behind wins and were also near the top of the list when it came to extra inning victories. My point here is that the Nationals of 2012 seldom blew any one out; they did not have a ton of lopsided wins.

It was a team that knew scoring runs was going to be a chore.

However, it was a team that had a swagger about them, that there was no game they could not win no matter what the score was in the early innings.

What we have witnessed over the past two weeks is the return of some of that quiet confidence. The swagger is not all the way back, but there are signs that we could see more of it in September. So, if making the NL playoffs means winning ugly, then so be it. The Nationals will be happy to take the wins any way they can.

Rant Sports columnist James Williams is a seven time Emmy Award winning producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Wordmandc and join his circle on Google +

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