Mark Hornbaker: A season to remember

With only two games remaining for the Washington Nationals and the team making one last run at a .500 record, it is hard not to be excited about the 2012 team. The 2011 team will go down in history as a team that never gave up on themselves. On three different occasions this season, the Nats have looked like they were going into a free fall in the standings.

On May 18, the team had a record of 18-18 and wasn't playing all that great but they were able stay around .500 level. Over the next 12 days, the Nats won four of the next 13 games and found themselves in last place with a record of 22-31. The Nats did not go into free fall like they have in the last six seasons. In fact, this team started to get better.

From May 30-June 24, the Nationals went from fifth place in the National League East standings to third place, winning 17 of the next 23 games and improving their record to 39-37. At this time, Nats fans were actually talking about a possible chance competing for a wild card spot in the National League.

The Nats floated around the .500 level for a week or two before the team started to falter again. On July 29, the Nats looked like they were going to start free falling again as the team's record was 49-56 and the team was again in fifth place. At this time, no one was talking about playoffs. Most fans were just hoping the team would not spiral out of control.

Once again, the Nats found it within themselves to bounce back as they won 13 of their next 21 and moved into third place with a record of 62-64. I am not sure if the dog days of summer were catching up on the team, but the Nats started to struggle once again as the team only won three of their next 15 games. On Sept. 8, the Nats were in fourth place with a record of 65-76 and the team looked like it had run out of steam. I think a lot of Nats fans thought the team would now spiral out of control.

Instead, the stubborn Nats reeled off 14 victories in their next 18 games. The team clinched third place with last night's 6-4 victory over the pesky Marlins. The Nats have only two games remaining and still have a chance to finish the season over .500.

As fan I am so very pleased with the 2011 Nationals and I cannot wait for spring training and 2012 season. As a writer, I want to thank Pete Kerzel for allowing me to share my stories with the readers at MASNsports.com.

Mark Hornbaker blogs about the Nats at Nationals Daily News and shares his views on baseball in D.C. as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative to welcome guest bloggers to out little corner of the Internet. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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