NL East Update: 7/28-8/3

After the Atlanta Braves dominated the division for much of the year, the Washington Nationals have stormed back to take the division lead by three games. One of the stories of the year so far in the National League East has been the ability of the Miami Marlins to hang around .500, even without 2013 N.L. Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez. Here is a look at the division’s performance over the past week:

1. Washington Nationals (60-49, 3-4 this week)

The Nationals have struggled against the Braves for much of the season series, but they have overtaken Atlanta for the division lead. They dropped their opener of the week in Miami 7-6 on a walk-off single by Jeff Baker before falling in Tuesday night’s game by a score of 3-0, as they were dominated by Henderson Alvarez. The Nationals fought back on Wednesday with a 4-3 win behind a dominant performance by Tanner Roark, who allowed just one run on three hits en route to his eleventh win of the year. Washington dropped back-to-back games again at home to Philadelphia before they came back to win Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was an 11-0 win, coming from the bat of Anthony Rendon, who collected three hits and four RBI, three of which came on his fourteenth home run of the season. Sunday was about Stephen Strasburg, who allowed no runs on three hits in seven innings.

2. Atlanta Braves (58-54, 1-6 this week)

The Braves’ decline has been a serious one in the 2014 season. After leading the division for much of the season, they now trail by 3 1/2 games, sitting just four games over .500. They opened the week with a big 2-0 win behind Ervin Santana’s eight shutout innings. The week ended on a heavily rough note for Atlanta as they dropped their next six games, allowing 30 runs in the process. The Braves start their first full week of August out of the playoff picture, two games behind the Cardinals for the second wild card spot.

3. Miami Marlins (54-57, 3-4 this week)

The Marlins started off their week on a solid note, taking two of three from the division-leading Nationals, highlighted by Jeff Baker’s walk-off single on Monday night. After they were unable to complete the sweep on Wednesday, they hosted the Cincinnati Reds for four games over the weekend. Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto dominated Miami on Thursday, allowing one run in seven innings, good enough to earn his twelfth win of the season. Jarred Cosart struggled in his Marlins debut on Friday after coming over in a trade from Houston on Thursday, lasting just 5 1/3 innings while allowing four runs. Christian Yelich’s walk-off single in the tenth inning of Saturday’s game gave the Marlins their only win of the series, coming before their 7-3 loss on Sunday.

4. New York Mets (53-58, 3-3 this week)

The Mets have been disappointing, by their own standards, seeing as how they expected to compete at a higher level after adding the likes of Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon in the winter. Colon pitched well on Monday against Philadelphia, allowing just one run on ten hits in 7 2/3 innings as he earned his tenth win of 2014. His performance was backed by the bat of Travis d’Arnaud, who launched two doubles and a three-run home run. They were then held in check by Cole Hamels on Tuesday night before picking up the series victory with an 11-2 win on Wednesday. The weekend series with San Francisco was a rough one for the Mets, as they dropped two of three, with the lone win coming behind Jacob de Grom’s stellar performance on Saturday that earned him his sixth win of the season.

5. Philadelphia Phillies (49-63, 3-4 this week)

The Phillies have struggled again this season, falling to the cellar of the National League East. They opened the week on Monday, dropping a 7-1 decision in New York before Cole Hamels tossed eight shutout innings on Tuesday night to even the series. They dropped the rubber match of the series on Wednesday before traveling to Washington for a four-game series. Philadelphia took the first two of the series, scoring ten runs on Thursday before winning 2-1 on Friday in a pitcher’s duel. The Nationals game back with an 11-0 win on  Saturday before Stephen Strasburg delivered a strong outing on Sunday, handing the Phillies a loss.

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