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If you’re impressed that the Nationals have started the season 3-0, well, don’t be.
Don’t get me wrong; they’ve been very impressive, and they never even trailed the entire three-game series at Cincinnati. But if history is any indication, starting out 3-0 hasn't really meant anything.
This is the fourth time the team has done it since moving from Montreal to the most powerful city in the world. The Nats also accomplished this in 2008, 2013 and 2014. How did they do in 2008? Well, after winning those first three, the Nats lost 9 in a row and 15 of their next 17. They would lose 102 games, the franchise’s worst record since the 1976 Montreal Expos ended the season at 55-107. It was the worst ever in Washington, but only until 2009 when they lost 103 games.
In 2013, the Nats went from 3-0 start to buzz saw in Cincinnati and never found themselves in first place again. They lost 15-0 on a Friday night, would bounce back and win 7-6 the next day to keep them in first place (where they had been every game of the season), then lost the Sunday game 6-3.
The loss knocked them out of first, then they returned home to sweep a 3-game series against the White Sox (but gain no ground on the Atlanta Braves). The Braves then came to Nats Park, swept the Nats, and the rest of the season involved looking at Atlanta’s back bumper. Twice they got within a half game of the Braves, but never got back to first, finishing at 86-76. I will always remember that season due to how many times Nats fans on Twitter would say “it’s only April” when the team struggled, followed by “it’s only May”, “it’s only June”, etc. No one wanted to admit the team just didn’t have it that year, hoping instead that in time, they would turn the switch on. They didn’t.
2014 is the only year a 3-0 start ended with a playoff berth. Like the others, however, that team started with 3 wins, then struggled. 23 games into the season, the team was only 12-11 and in third place in the division. They were in second as late as July 18th before getting back on top and staying there, eventually winning the division by 17 games.
The other two years the Nats made the playoffs, the teams started 2-0, lost, then had a strong winning streak. In 2012, they went 2-0, lost two straight, then won 8 of 9 en route to a team-best 98 wins. Last year, they went 2-0, lost 1, then won 7 straight on the way to 95 wins.
So starting with 3 straight has not exactly been the charm for Washington. Four straight? No Washington team has ever done that to start the season. They can make history by doing so tonight against the Atlanta Braves.