Rizzo and 33 days

With the Nationals' victory over the Florida Marlins 3-2 Sunday, the Nats are 17-14 and won their 17th game of the season 33 days faster than last year's pace.

The Nats did not secure the team's 17th win until June 11 last season and by then the Nats were close to 20 games out of first place.

I caught up with Nats General Manager Mike Rizzo during the game and we reflected on the Nats great start and how he played it in spring training. He said he told the team to do three things this season:

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"Prepare to win. Play to win. And expect to win."

He told me he knew this year was different when he walked into the clubhouse after the 13-inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers early this season and the players were visibly upset, some still in their game gear two hours after the loss.

"A lot of them were talking about what they could have done differently to win the game," Rizzo said. "Last year, some of them might have said, Oh well, we lost.' - Not this season."

He says the team is taking ownership of what is happening this season and that is a big change.

Rizzo also said he is excited about the opportunity for left-hander Doug Slaten and says the pitcher earned the chance to get called up because of how well he was pitching at Syracuse. Let's see how Doug does in the lefty specialist role and if that will leave Sean Burnett with the seventh inning role all to himself?

Also, I'm going back to my hometown in Woodbridge to check out the Potomac Nationals and see how they're doing. I'll give you an update from Pfitzner Stadium tomorrow night.

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