Look at that: 50-60, a nice round record. Fifty-two games left and only 13 wins needed to avoid 100 losses, the second-most-dire prediction for the Nationals. The Royals re-join the group of clubs in Washington's rearview mirror as the Nats' winning percentage soars to .455. Florida is even feeling the heat within the division, barely holding on to 4th place by half a game, and needing extra innings last night to keep their tenuous (and surely temporary) hold on that spot.
Bigger picture: the Nats have won five in a row, the longest current streak in MLB. They are 8-2 in their last 10 games, a record matched only by the Arizona Diamondbacks. In short, they are The Hottest Team in the Majors as they go for a sweep of the Cardinals, and as they stare down history starting tomorrow in San Francisco.
If the Nationals give up the record-breaking homer to Barry Bonds, they will receive the most attention from MLB they have in a long time, at least since the beginning of the season and the "worst-ever" predictions, and certainly more attention than in the MLB ownership days. The useless powers-that-be give our team so little attention and respect that they couldn't even include Ronnie Belliard's inspiring fielding performance in MLB.com's Top 10 defensive plays of the week. We can only hope, since Ronnie's feat took place on Tuesday and the list came out Wednesday, that there simply wasn't time to put him at the top where he deserves to be and reshuffle the rest of the pack. Surely this oversight will be mentioned with next week's Top 10.
On a related note, we present a late-coming Manny Acta Optimist of the Week award to the Washington Nationals' collective brain trust. This past week they let the trading deadline pass without dealing the oft-mentioned trade bait Chad Cordero, John Rauch, and Ryan Church. It's hard to argue with the results that keeping the team together have yielded. Since that July 31 statement of faith in the team on the field (and unwillingness to part with current players for those ill-defined "prospects" everyone was clamoring for), the winning has been uninterrupted. It re-enforces the simple brilliance of The Plan, highlights even more the optimism-brimming managerial magnificence of Chair Manny, and brings teeming crowds of 25,000+ to RFK.
As the team looks to plant another dozen on the hapless Cards this afternoon and looks to make/spoil history in the days afterwards, let's keep in mind that the wild card is only 9.5 games away. There, we said it.