After a 7-2 victory over the Royals last night, the Nationals have now won five straight games, all on the road, and 11 of their last 15 overall. They stand above .500 for the first time since July 14 and are 12 games back in the division after the Braves' third straight loss on Saturday. That's the closest they've been in three weeks. Just when they were written off, Washington has pulled off its best stretch of the 2013 season.
Even if the Nats keep it up the division is still a major longshot, but fortunately for them, the Reds haven't been playing their best baseball either. The Nats now sit 8.5 games back from the Reds for the final NL Wild Card spot, and Washington has the advantage with their schedule. After they play the Royals today, the Nats face teams with losing records in each of their next 19 games. Conversely, the Reds play expected playoff teams in ten of their next 13, including seven games against the Cardinals.
Today the Nats look for their sixth consecutive win which would be their longest winning streak of the season. Dan Haren (8-11, 4.64) takes the mound against a club he's been very successful against in the past. Through ten career starts vs. the Royals he is 5-2 with a 2.53 ERA.
Pitching for Kansas City will be right-hander Ervin Santana who has been one of their more reliable starters this year. He holds a 3.13 ERA through 167 innings in what has been the best season of his nine-year MLB career.