Entering the season, the Washington Nationals were considered the favorite by many to win the NL East and make a deep run in the playoffs.
But the defending NL East champions hold a 58-58 record entering Sunday's series finale against the Giants and sit 4.5 games behind the Mets in the division. They've lost seven of their last 10 games, including the first three games of the four-game set in San Francisco, and have fallen 9.5 games behind the Cubs for the second NL Wild Card spot.
Last year, the Giants knocked off the top-seeded Nationals in the NLDS and now they are putting a serious dent in Washington's hopes of making back to the playoffs this season.
Prior to Saturday's game, All-Star and MVP candidate Bryce Harper was asked to try to explain the Nationals' recent slide and while doing so, paid a compliment to the Giants. This from the Washington Post:
“I really don’t have an answer for you. Just trying to go out there and play some good ballgames and keep fighting and doing what we can do. The Giants are a great team and sometimes you’ve just got to tip your cap. They’re a team that doesn’t panic and they win ballgames. They’re not scared when they’re down and keeping on the pedal when they’re ahead," Harper told reporters Saturday.
While the Nationals stumble, the Giants are still fighting to win the NL West. Harper thinks the defending World Series champions can be an example for his club.
“We can learn a lot from that crew over there, the way they play and the way go about it. I think we’ve just got to keep going about it the right way and keep playing hard and keep playing hard and doing the things we need to do as a team we’ll win ball games and hopefully get on a stretch where we can jump out ahead and get it going," Harper said.