As the Nationals hold on to a slim chance of making the playoffs, they are keeping an eye on the series between the Pirates and Reds up in Pittsburgh. Davey Johnson, however, says he's just as interested in how the St. Louis Cardinals are doing in Milwaukee.
The Nationals travel to St. Louis after this weekend's series against the Marlins, and Johnson wants to get a little payback. The Cardinals swept the Nats in Washington on April 22-24 and the manager remembers.
Oh, and they also happened to knock the Nats out of the playoffs in last year's National League Division Series.
Johnson hopes the Nats can make the Cardinals' race to win the NL Central a little more interesting.
"It would be nice to come in there and play well against them and tighten it up even further," he said.
St. Louis has been in first place for 121 total days since the beginning of the season. The Pirates and Reds have kept up with them all year, but for the most part it's been the Cardinals' division to lose.
The Cards will almost certainly be in the playoffs regardless this season, but winning their division would prevent them from having to chance it all in a one game wild card matchup. St. Louis did beat the Braves last season in the game, the first year of the new playoff format, but no team wants to take that risk if they don't have to.
"Nothing worse than thinking about winning a division then losing it and having a one game playoff," Johnson said. "That would be the absolute worst thing. Leading your division the whole way and then all of a sudden having a one game playoff."
The Nats are chasing the Reds, and now the Pirates, who are tied with a 88-66 record. Washington's magic number for elimination is four games and that technically could be reached by the time the Nats play St. Louis.
They are still playing for their playoff lives, but a little revenge against the Cardinals along the way would be embraced by the Nationals.
"I’d like to get back on an even-keel with them," Johnson said.