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Nationals Hold Players-Only Meeting after Loss Drops Them Below .500

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The Washington Nationals are reeling. As said before, the Nationals aren’t at rock bottom but they are close. Wednesday’s shutout-loss to the Boston Red Sox completed a three-game sweep and handed the Nats their 17 loss in their last 22 games. The odds-on favorite to win the National League East before the season, Washington is now seven games behind first-place Atlanta with a record of 42-43.

Following their loss on Wednesday, the Nationals held an “emotional” players-only meeting that was led by two-time defending NL Cy Young Max Scherzer. Mark Zuckerman of MASN and Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post passed along details of the meeting.

Shortstop Trea Turner said the overall theme from the meeting is that it’s “do or die now” for the team, per Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post.

Outfielder Bryce Harper called the team’s unique situation, chasing to get back into playoff contention “exciting” and he is ready to make a push to see if they can cover ground

Meanwhile reliever Mark Grace said the team needs to play looser and “for each other,” per Castillo.

The Nationals have won four NL East titles since 2012. Jon Morosi passed along that in their four division title seasons, they never trailed by more than four games.

The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies have been two of the biggest surprises of the 2018 season in MLB. Both teams were not supposed to compete this year, yet both have powered through better records than the Nationals. Injuries and inconsistent play have stomped Washington.

In Wednesday’s loss starter Erick Fedde exited the game after just one inning, receiving an MRI for tightness in his shoulder. His injury scare just adds to list of injuries that included games loss for Daniel Murphy, Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman, Howie Kendrick, Jeremy Hellickson, Brian Goodwin, Matt Wieters, and Adam Eaton.

In an up year for NL East, the Nationals are 13-16 against their division rivals. In their four division-winning seasons they finished at least 12 games better vs. NL East foes.

But, there may be some relief in the following weeks for the Nationals as they try to reset the narrative of their season. In Washington’s next 27 games, they’ll have 21 against teams also sub-.500, as Jamal Collier of passed along.

History has shown us that players-only meetings can go either way. Only time will tell if the Nationals can turn the Scherzer-led meeting into a positive that ends with them getting back into the playoffs. They will have to do so with added urgency and the heighten attention and story lines that include the future of Harper with the club.

Washington’s first test following the meeting is Thursday as they start a four-game series hosting the Miami Marlins.

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