The curtain of reality was torn open this weekend at Nats Park and what was revealed was another dimension in which the 2013 Nats are what they were expected to be. Denard Span spent a lot of time getting on base. Over the course of the three game series against the Phillies he was on base in six out of fifteen plate appearances, and was the lead-off man the Nats have been ever searching for. Jayson Werth continued his toward pace. Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond had their moments as did nearly every member of the team. Even Steve Lombardozzi got in the act acting like the super sub the Nats expected him to be contributing as a pinch hitter and in giving Rendon Sunday off.
It was a strange sight to see. The 2013 Nats suddenly and almost miraculously looked like the 2013 Nats. It is too little too late and at this point it is a tease of what could have been, and even when the Nats had bad luck this weekend it turned out good. Stephen Strasburg injured his groin and it was an injury that caused him pain when he flew open. Go back and watch any Strasburg start this season. When his landing foot lands towards first base it is a ball and when it is towards home plate a strike. Watching Strasburg wasn’t even about watching the pitches. If he was mechanically sound the pitch always went where he wanted, and if not the batter still might swing and miss. That is how good Strasburg is, but when forced to be mechanically sound he threw a complete game shutout on just 99 pitches.
At 24 years old it should be expected that Strasburg still have some pitching to learn, and Sunday was a taste of what the future holds for the Nationals. That is what 2013 has been. We’ve seen Bryce Harper have a torrid April and give us a glimpse of an MVP season, Rendon has come up and pleased us with line-drives from foul pole to foul pole, but he is still adjusting and that was more than evident in the month of July. The veterans on the club haven’t been the consistent steadying force they were expected to be and because of that the Nats 2013 season has existed in only glimpses of the other dimension in which they have.
That is what this weekend was. It was a glimpse into the could have been. The way the Nationals played against the Phillies was the way they were expected to play all season long. They ran over a bad team and left nothing behind but skid marks. If they could have played like that against the Dodgers, the Pirates, and the Braves then maybe they win more than one game against those three teams, but they haven’t and they didn’t. The truth is this series against the Phillies wasn’t a turning point. It is too late for turning points. It was only a glimpse. A shadow cast from a Platonic screen.
Perhaps the Nats continue their hot stretch against the Giants, or perhaps our 2013 comes back in full swing. The future is still unknown, but it would take something close to unreality for the Washington Nationals to complete a come from behind run to take either of the Wild Cards. The only way to fix 2013 is with a time machine, but relish this weekend for what it was. It was a glimpse of another possibility. A 2013 in which the Nats were what was expected to be, and hope that in 2014 this is the dimension they can do it in.