WASHINGTON -- For much of this season, the Nationals have preached patience.
There were plenty of games left to play, and their offense was too talented to stay in a slump all season. It was only a matter of time until luck turned in their favor. Manager Davey Johnson said that the only solution was to "just keep swinging."
But on Sunday morning, veteran first baseman Adam LaRoche offered a slightly more urgent message.
"This is a do-or-die month [coming up]," he said. "You can't go into September 10 games out and expect to do anything. You'd have to win every game in the month and hope other teams lose a bunch. It's just not realistic. You go in there with four, five, six games to work with, you can do something with it. It's a big month coming up, every day. Today's game is huge, tomorrow, the next day. We don't have a cushion at all to be able to sit back."
The Nationals had won three of their past four games entering Sunday's series finale against the Mets. The defeat, an 11-0 blowout in the first game of Friday's doubleheader, was one of the most disheartening losses of the season. Dan Haren called it "rock bottom."
"We don't have any time for hitting rock bottom any more. That's it," he said. "If we're going to hit rock bottom, that was it and we have to go from there."
LaRoche said that the Nationals hit rock bottom long before Friday.
"We've gone about as bad as you can go," he said. "We would bounce out of it, get 15 hits, and then we'd go two days with a total of six hits. I think that was rock bottom. I don't know when it was, but it happened early on. It was like nothing else could go wrong."
Earlier in the week, Jayson Werth noted that the only positive of their disappointing stretch is that the Braves have been playing just as poorly. Atlanta was 11-11 in July entering Sunday, seemingly inviting the Nationals to gain ground. Washington woke up Sunday morning 8 1/2 games back in the National League East and eight games out of the Wild Card.
"We really have nowhere to go but up, especially with the situation in the standings where we're at," LaRoche said. "There's no point in playing on our heels right now. Let's just go all out, take some chances and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. We're in a pretty deep hole. I'm not saying it's over, but we've got a lot of work to do."
McCatty hospitalized with irregular heartbeat
WASHINGTON -- Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty was transported to a local hospital on Sunday morning and was not present for the team's game against the Mets.
Manager Davey Johnson said after the game that McCatty was hospitalized with atrial fibrillation. The 59-year-old pitching coach had an irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure before the game, which Washington won, 14-1. Johnson said that McCatty will spend the night in the hospital as a precaution.
"He's his usual grumpy self," Johnson said jokingly. "Hopefully, he was watching the game. I was hoping that grand slam would shock him right out of that atrial fibrillation."
McCatty is in his fourth full season as the team's pitching coach and his 18th as a pitching coach at the professional level. A Michigan native, he planned on flying to Detroit before the rest of the team to spend Monday's off-day with his family, according to Johnson.
Instead, McCatty is expected to travel to Detroit on the team's flight Monday afternoon. The Nationals will begin a two-game series with the Tigers on Tuesday.
"They'll give him some medication, thin his blood, and something to slow his heart rate down," Johnson said, "and hopefully, he'll come out of the irregular beat."
• Infielder Danny Espinosa has fallen into another funk at Triple-A Syracuse as he tries to work his way back into the Nationals' plans. Espinosa hit .094 with 33 strikeouts in his first 19 games with the Chiefs, but something seemed to click when he hit .429 with two homers, seven RBIs and only seven strikeouts in his next 11 contests.
However, the 26-year-old stands at .136 with 16 K's in the 11 games since. He entered Sunday with a .196/.260/.288 Triple-A batting line, with 57 strikeouts in 42 games.
• Right-hander Lucas Giolito, the Nationals' No. 2 prospect, made his fifth start for the club's Gulf Coast League affiliate on Friday and gave up four runs in 2 2/3 innings against the GCL Mets. The 19-year-old has a 6.23 ERA over 8 2/3 innings as he comes back from Tommy John surgery, a process that has the Nats being very cautious with his workload.
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.