By Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON — The Nationals (52-36) maintain the third-best record in baseball, and a 9.5-game division lead, as they emerge from the All-Star break for the home stretch of the regular season.

As they mount their final push for the playoffs, a 74-game blitzkrieg in two and a half months, the goal is to narrow their vision, to one series at a time, Max Scherzer said during his regular 106.7 The Fan segment — “On the Mound with Max Scherzer,” presented by Dulles Motors — and fend off the apathy of those dog days of summer.

“That just seems like that’s such a large number when you think about it,” Scherzer told Danny Rouhier. “But you just take it three games at a time, just focus on trying to win a series, and you just kind of keep grinding out every series. Especially when you get into August and you get in the dog days, you’re kind of sick of everything. You just keep grinding that out, just keep winning that series.”

Maintaining that focus, Scherzer says, helps build the proper mindset to carry into the postseason.

“When you’re in those moments, when you just keep that short-term memory on, that’s what wins in the playoffs,” he said. “Because, guess what? It’s now a five-game series, it’s a seven-game series, and you’re in the same moment as you were in August. From my experience, that’s the mentality that works. Do standings matter? Yeah, of course they do, but at the end of the day, it’s more about your health and how you have to attack each series.”

“Look, I get it,” he said. “We’re 10 games up and we’re in a good position. But, saying that, this is baseball. Anything can happen.”

“We’ve got to stay healthy,” he said. “We’ve got to keep all of our horses on the field and keep grinding out there for the next 10 weeks. So that’s the utmost important; 1) getting everybody back; and 2) keeping everybody healthy, because that’s the only way we’re going to win this National League East. That’s the No. 1 goal here is win the East. You’ve got to win your division, considering the format.”

Follow @ChrisLingebach and @1067TheFan on Twitter


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