One thing that plagued the 2013 Washington Nationals was their inability to play up to their potential. This was most obvious when they played teams they were clearly better than, and would play down to that teams skill level. This was both frustrating and saddening because it was hard to discern a winnable series from a tougher one for Washington. This has not been the case early on in 2014, as the Nationals finished their sweep of the Miami Marlins with a 7-1 win that was punctuated by another eighth inning grand slam, this time by Ian Desmond.
This series, as well as the one against the New York Mets in their opening series, are ones the Nationals should win, and there is no reason for them to lose these series. In 2013, these are series Washington would struggle to just squeak through, taking two of three when a sweep should be expected. But this is a team that has looked completely different in the infancy of this baseball season, and it’s something that should encourage many fans as the season goes on that this team could be very special.
Take last night’s 10-7 win as an example. Washington was down 5-0 after two innings of play, and would have caused fans to change the channel in 2013. This year is quite different, as Washington was able to chip away and by the sixth inning have a 6-5 lead. Then, Drew Storen gave up a home run to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and the game was tied once again, and Miami proceeded to take the lead again in the next inning. The Nationals stayed in the game and were able to win in the eighth inning on a Jayson Werth grand slam. Chances are that in 2013 the Nationals probably lose the game 7-0.
It is still incredibly early in this baseball season, as Washington still has 153 games to play. Regardless, in baseball a strong start, even through nine games, can mean a lot for a team trying to prove it is not a one year wonder. Throw in a new manager and it means even more. This team looks very little like their 2013 incarnation, and that is something that is very encouraging.