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Braves' Sizzling Start Gets Hotter with Early Season Sweep of Nationals

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 14: Justin Upton #8 (L) and Evan Gattis #24 (C) celebrate with teammate Andrelton Simmons #19 of the Atlanta Braves after they both scored during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 14, 2013 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Vinny HardyCorrespondent IApril 14, 2013

The Atlanta Braves arrived in Washington on a serious roll with a record of 8-1. Nothing has changed in the loss column as they leave the nation's capital with an MLB-best 11-1 mark.

They are a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies away from being undefeated. Cliff Lee was lights out that night, so you had to tip your cap.

This is the third straight series sweep for the Braves. Unlike the Cubs and Marlins (a combined 6-16 coming into Sunday), the Nationals are legit. 

They are a popular pick to win the World Series.

The fact that Atlanta went into Nationals Parkwhere Washington was previously undefeatedand beat Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez along the way speaks even more volumes.

It's early. It's April. We all know.

But it is as big a statement as a team can make against its bitter division rival in early April.

After two tough, two-run victories to start the series, the Braves pummeled the Nationals 9-0 in the finale. Paul Maholm kept the Nats bats quiet while the Braves offense went to work on Gonzalez.

Atlanta's hot start has generated both excitement and cautious optimism. Fans definitely hope they can keep up the great play while saving something for October.

The '98 Yankees hold the record with their .704 single-season winning percentage. So the Braves are going to cool off at some point without a doubt.


Manager Fredi Gonzalez said it best in his postgame press conference after Friday's 6-4, comeback win.

"We haven't even began to swing the bats yet."

He's right.

The Braves are batting .258 as a team. 

Included in this are Jason Heyward's .103, B.J. Upton's .163, Dan Uggla's .171 and Andrelton Simmons' .211 averages.

As good as things have been, they are still capable of taking it up another gear at some point.

Freddie Freeman is on the DL, and Brian McCann hasn't even set foot on the field yet.

Same goes for the bullpen. Cristhian Martinez and Johnny Venters are out of action right now. When all these guys come back, a strong team becomes that much stronger.

All of this still hasn't even mentioned the contributions of bench players Ramiro Pena, Reed Johnson and the job Evan Gattis has done in his fill-in role.

The season is young, but they have already been a lot of fun to watch. It has the makings of being a great season Atlanta.

All stats are accurate as of 4/14/13.

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