....sometimes. At least that was my memory until I actually went back and checked. Turns out that those seasons of disappointment contained even more repressed disappointment. It's not all tears since they have an overall winning record in the last week but somehow my brain had stretched one dominant finish to extend over 6 seasons. Below is a roundup of National's pre-winter baseball:
2005: After losing 3 out of 3 to the Mets, the National's finished the season against Florida and Philly. Carrasco, Stanton and Loaiza took the wins in Florida to the tune of 4-0, 11-1 and 11-7 finals. Returning to RFK, the Nats finished the season losing all 3 to Philly to finish 81-81, their best record (since relocation) thus far.
2006: After winning a 4 game series in New York (perhaps a Sept tradition?), the final homestand featured the Phillies and the Mets. The Nats won the first 2-1 including a 14 inning loss in game 2. The final series brought losses to Rauch, Perez and Ortiz the lowlight of which being the 0-13 game 2.
2007: This season may not have gone the way any fan wanted it to but at least they got to sweep the Mets in New York then seal their epic collapse by losing to Philly in the last series. Unfortunately, the rules don't dictate that if the Nat's can't win the division, no one can.
2008: One could argue that all years since '94 have been the dark years for the franchise but even so, '08 began the really really dark years. September included sweeps by the Padres and the Phillies, the latter tallying losses 100, 101 and 102. At least they won once versus Florida (see, it can be done) avoiding a 10 game losing streak to close out the year.
2009: The end of this season might mark the beginning of the turnaround. I don't want to lay it all in Manny Acta's lap but it feels like there's been an upward trajectory ever since. The park may have been near empty for the last home series against the Mets but they scratched out wins in each game and headed down to Atlanta to sweep the Braves in four to go 7-0 on the last week.
2010: The last week of last season started with a come from behind win versus Atlanta but finished with series losses of 1-2 against the Phillies and Mets.
Overall, the National's are 22-20 during the last 7 games of each season. Clearly, the awesomeness of 2009's finish distorted my reality of their actual performance but comparing their season records to the games above, I can still say that the Nat's play better during the last week than folks just looking forward to hockey season.
After completing their four gamer in NatsTown North tonight, they head to Atlanta where they will assist the Braves in one of the bigger wildcard collapses ever then wrap it up in Florida. I predict a win tonight, 2-1 in Atlanta and who knows against Florida. The Marlins don't win at home but the Nationals don't beat the Marlins. Maybe there will be some ghostbuster's style stream crossing and the Nat's finish with an 11 game win streak, it could happen.
By the way, the most the Nat's have ever won in Sept is 15. They're at 11 with 7 to play