Surging Nats pass Phillies in NL East

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By 106.7 The Fan

Don't look now, but the Washington Nationals are on a tear.

The Nationals completed a three-game sweep of the Marlins Thursday to get four games over .500 and into second place in the National League East. 
Yes, Washington is now ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies and Bryce Harper in the division. 

The Washington Nationals have been the best team in baseball since May 24.FINAL // #Nats 5, Marlins 2 pic.twitter.com/gsT5hDbIPx

— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 4, 2019

So how did the Nats turn it around? General manager Mike Rizzo told The Sports Junkies a lot of it came down to health and defense.

"I just think that health has a lot to do with it," Rizzo said Wednesday.

"I think that we're playing better baseball. If I had to put my finger on one thing that's improved, as far as performance on the field, our defense is a lot better now than it was about a month, a month and a half ago. And that obviously goes hand in hand with starting pitching and relief pitching, the defense is better, the pitching's better, we're getting healthy bodies back.

"Our lineup is kind of back in full and we're scoring a lot of runs and playing a lot of high-end, exciting baseball."

Exciting baseball is a good way to put it. Washington has now won 13 of their last 16 games and 26 of their last 36. How's that for exciting baseball? 

The Phillies, meanwhile, have gone 12-20. How does that make the Nats GM feel?

"Much better. There's no question," Rizzo said. "We all live and die by wins and losses. It's the nature of the business. It's no fun when you have a really good team and you're playing poorly.

"Now we've had really bad teams and played really bad, but that's expected. When your expectations, and you see a team that's very, very talented and really good and playing extremely poorly, that's no fun, because you feel for the players because you know how good they are and you know how good they can be, and what our internal expectations are. And when you're not meeting them, it's not a fun time in Nats Land."

Well, times have changed and the Nationals are playing better. Now can they stay the same?

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