Davey Johnson sat in front of an oversized red microphone late Friday night and looked as defeated as he has since he pulled a Curly 'W' windbreaker over his 69-year-old frame for the first time 13 months ago.
On a dreary Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park that seemed befitting of the mood that descended around them, the Washington Nationals needed a savior. They needed a spark.
The fact that Pedro Beato threw a breaking ball was not a surprise. In the two-plus innings the New York Mets relievers pitched Tuesday night, they'd fed the Washington Nationals a steady diet of those. Curveballs from Bobby Parnell, sliders from Tim Byrdak and more curveballs from Beato.
The Washington Nationals open the second half of the season Friday night in Miami as the best team in the National League, leading the East Division by four games. The second half will bring a pennant race to D.C., and the Nationals will be tested.
The Washington Nationals' bullpen has been nearly impenetrable for the first half of the season, but Sunday it left the door open at the most inopportune of times.
Andrelton Simmons gave Atlanta a chance. Michael Morse had a quick answer for Washington. Morse had four hits, including the go-ahead homer in the eighth inning after Washington had blown a four-run lead, and the Nationals beat the Braves 5-4 on Friday night.
The irony of the trot Michael Morse broke into as he rounded first base in the eighth inning Friday night was the conversation he'd had mere minutes before.
For much of the past few weeks, when the Washington Nationals have been winning and putting up big offensive numbers, it's been in spite of third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
The Washington Nationals designated struggling reliever Brad Lidge for assignment Sunday and activated reliever Ryan Mattheus.