Almost three weeks ago, with loses mounting and optimism-haters basking in the Nats' misery, peppering columns and broadcasts with snippy comments about this being the Worst Team of All Time, DCO fought against the tide, guaranteeing, to the derision of some, that these Nationals would not lose 100 games. Following that statement, Washington has a record of 12-6, putting them on pace to lose ONLY 95 games. Throw out that pesky little let's-get-our-feet-wet 1-8 start, and they surely would be dancing with a .500 record right now. That's a far cry from the much-referenced 120-loss potential of this team.
The Nationals even match up with the MLB-leading Red Sox and NL-leading Mets in this wondrous post-May 9 stretch. Boston is 12-4 and New York is 12-5; pretty good company. Teams not in this good company include the Braves (7-10), Orioles (8-9), Cardinals (7-9), and Marlins (8-10). Yes, yes, all teams have up and down times during a season, but who really thought the Nats would at ANY time have a prolonged streak of consistent winning such as this. If this team finishes within sniffing distance of .500, it would be absolutely criminal if Manny Acta did not receive Manager of the Year honors. Possibly written off in some quarters as an overly optimistic first-year manager, Acta kept the clubhouse from splintering in those tough early weeks and has led the team to overachieve ever since, constantly relying on cast-offs and after-thoughts the whole time. Who else in MLB has gotten so much out of what was thought to be so little. Maybe it's too much to expect that he keep this up for four more months, but we couldn't call ourselves DC Optimist if we expected otherwise.
It's also worth pointing out how unexpected contributions continue to be the norm with this team. It's already been postulated elsewhere that the arrival of Ryan Langerhans ushered in this era of good feeling, but today we have the first tangible evidence that he could be a key piece here. His eigth-inning grand slam was as unexpected as it was desperately needed, and provided a cushion that kept this game from being close the rest of the way.
Not wishing to jinx this current run, DCO will, for the moment, refrain from guaranteeing the Nationals will not lose 90 games, but you never know...