Apr 11, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT
After beating the Miami Marlins on Thursday to secure their second series sweep of this young season, the Nationals moved to 7-2 through nine games on the year. That’s a .778 winning percentage, and a pretty good start, right?
Well, what if you were told the Nationals started each of the last two seasons with the exact same record? In 2012 they went on to post the best record in baseball with 98 wins, but in 2013 they missed the playoffs. Though things are going well now, a long season is ahead.
The Nationals actually head to Atlanta this weekend to face the Braves in Games 10, 11 & 12, just as they did last season. A year ago Atlanta swept them at Nationals Park and never really looked back on their way to a division title.
Will it go different this time around? The Nationals certainly hope so.
“Hopefully it goes better this time,” Jayson Werth said. “You saw what happened last year. They jumped out to a big lead and we couldn’t get back at them. So of course these games are important.”
“You play 162 games it seems like every year it comes down to the last couple of games. So you can’t take any of these games for granted, for sure. It is early, but against a division rival, a top-notch team like the Braves you’ve got to come out playing your best ball.”
The Braves were 8-1 heading into Game 10 last year, but this season have started off slow. Despite taking two of three against the Nationals a week ago, the Braves are 5-4 and coming off a series loss against the Mets. They have lost three of their last four games overall.
The Braves are struggling to score runs this year, ranking second-to-last in the majors with 23 runs through nine games. That’s an average of 2.6 runs per game.
The Nationals, on the other hand, are faring much better at the plate. They have scored more than twice as many runs so far (49) and average 5.4 per contest.
In terms of runs allowed, the Braves are once again proving a lethal pitching staff. They’ve surrendered the fewest runs in the majors with a total of just 22. Even with their pitching injuries, they continue to keep opponents off the scoreboard. The Nationals aren’t too shabby as a staff either, with the 7th fewest runs allowed at 27.
We’re less than two weeks into the 2014 season, but the Nationals could create some early distance between them and the Braves. After this weekend the teams will not see each other again until late June. By that time in 2013 Atlanta had built a 7 1/2 game lead in the division.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
OCT. 7: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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