So much for making that October dinner reservation.  Evidently the Nationals noticed everyone writing them off in pen instead of pencil last week…and turned from David Banner into a hulking playoff contender by winning 6 of 7 games.  This coupled with the 2015 version of “Mets Meltdown” (4 losses in their last 5 games) gives cause for confidence.  Something about September:  the club leads the Majors in runs scored (117) this month and owns the 5th best ERA since the end of August.  Thirteen games remain and they’re only six games back!  This is where paying attention in Mrs. Janosz’s Advanced Math class comes in handy:  if the Mets tread water heading home (6-7) the Nats would need to win 12 of 13…and even a Mets implosion (3-10) would need a 9-4 finish to send the season to a 163rd game.  So you’re saying there’s a chance…

Last Week’s Heroes– Back to back #1 picks lived up to their standing.  Bryce Harper merely hit .519 with 5 home runs and 10 RBI…reclaiming the NL batting average and homer lead.  If he doesn’t win the MVP, there should be an investigation.  Stephen Strasburg went 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA, striking out 24 while issuing only a pair of walks.  In a year where he’s been hurt early and often, it’s good to see him shine in September.  Unsung shout out to Jose Lobaton, who Friday ended Miami’s threat in the top of the 10th by throwing out Christian Yelich trying to steal second…before ending the game on a sac fly.  Instead of a second straight loss… the backup catcher set up a series win.

Last Week’s Humbled– Why was Lobaton playing?  Perhaps because Wilson Ramos was hitting .118 with 9 strikeouts…and has been less than stellar (.195 with 9 walks and 43 strikeouts) since the All Star Break.  Jayson Werth may be enjoying a solid September (.289, 6HR & 15 RBI) but his faceplant head first slide Friday night to score the game-winning run definitely left some marks…including a strawberry jam spot on his forehead.  Werth rated the slide “an 8 on the crashlanding scale”–while the East German judge gave him a 4.

Game to Watch– Monday Gio Gonzalez (11-7, 3.83 ERA) pitches against the Orioles Ubaldo Jiminez (11-9, 4.31) as the Battle of the Beltways feature two teams with identical tragic numbers (8).  While the Nats are hoping for a Mets collapse of epic proportions in the NL East, the O’s are chasing Houston for the second AL Wildcard–with three other teams in the mix as well.  And of course, we get to hear people shout “OH” during the Anthem.

Game to Miss– Sunday Gonzalez pitches against Philadelphia’s Aaron Harang (5-15, 5.04 ERA)…who hasn’t won since July 30th.  Have we mentioned that the Phillies own the worst record in the majors and are cratering further with 6 straight losses?   Even the original Nats Park home finale loses that status as next Monday’s makeup date with Cincinnati swipes that honor.  Take a drive out I-66 to Virginia’s wine country…with the knowledge that the green sauce on the salmon puffs at Chateau O’Brien isn’t guacamole, it’s wasabi.