The Nationals are panicking

It’s not just the Mets who entered the NL East with high hopes and have fallen flat.

It’s July 5, and Washington has a losing record. The 42-43 Nationals are scrambling to collect themselves.

After getting swept for the third time since the start of June and dropping their season-high fifth straight game Wednesday, the Nationals held a players-only meeting after a 3-0 loss to the Red Sox.

According to the Washington Post’s account, Max Scherzer was the leader of the meeting, which wasn’t officially called by one person, as veterans made sure the younger players stuck around.

“I think anytime Max holds the meeting or holds court, there’s going to be some yelling,” left fielder Adam Eaton said after the Fourth of July loss. “… In baseball, you don’t have that type of intensity all the time, so it’s a little different. I think guys gravitate toward that. I think everybody has a kind of intensity bone in their body, and sometimes things need to be said in that fashion.”

Washington has dropped 18 of its past 24 contests to sit seven games behind the first-place Braves. For so long, the team had been waiting on injuries to heal — standouts like Daniel Murphy, Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon and Matt Adams have missed significant time. Yet the team now is mostly healthy and still underperforming.

After being a season-high 11 games over .500 back on June 9, the Nationals have since gone 5-17 and, with the loss to Boston on Wednesday, drop to below .500 for the first time since May 2.

Bryce Harper, who becomes a free agent this upcoming offseason, believes the Nationals will come around. Yet the young Braves (49-36) and Phillies (47-37) have shown no signs of slowing.

“I think, as a clubhouse, we know we’re a good team,” Harper said. “We can go out there and compete with everybody. We have to keep grinding, keep doing our thing, and good things will happen. We’ve never been in this position before, and I think it’s an exciting time for us. In years past, we’ve won the division by a lot of games, and we’re able to be behind right now. I’m excited to get out there and test it.”

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