The Century Club

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Well, it was bound to happen eventually. The Nationals staved off loss No. 100 last night and tried their darndest to stave it off again tonight. Down 4-0 to the Dodgers after one inning, they rallied to tie the game 6-6 in the sixth, only to lose 7-6 after Ron Villone served up a solo homer to Rafael Furcal in the eighth.

So there you have it. The Nats are 52-100, members of the 100-loss club for the second straight season. It’s not a crowded club. Over the last 30 years, only three other franchises have done this: the Rays of 2001-02, the Tigers of 2002-03 and the Royals of 2004-06 (they did it three times in a row).

This is also only the fourth 100-loss club in Expos/Nationals franchise history, with the 1969 expansion team going 52-110 and the 1976 squad going 55-107 along with the last two seasons.

As far as D.C.-based teams go, this is the 11th to reach triple digits in losses. The original Senators did it five times (1904, 1907, 1909, 1949 and 1955) while the expansion Senators did it in their first four years of existence (1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964).

These Nats all insist the 100-loss mark was never on anyone’s minds, at least not until we media types ask them about it. But no one’s pleased to be a part of it, especially those who were around for each of the last two seasons.

“The losses are extremely disappointing, especially given the talent that we have,” reliever Jason Bergmann said. “I think at the beginning of the year, no one expected us to lose 100 games. Certainly we have the players and coaches that are much better than our record shows.”

Added Villone: “I think it’s disappointing to lose more than half your games, period, with the roster we have. Where do you go? Where do you look? Do you look at yourself first? Because tonight it was me. Everybody else has had a chance to pull through or do the right things, and unfortunately for us it hasn’t been that way too much. Talent is one thing, and not getting it done is another. And unfortunately for us, it’s been too often.”

Somehow, there remains some sense of optimism throughout the clubhouse.

“I’m just so proud of these guys,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “To go through what they’ve gone through this season and to just really get after it and try to win the ballgame when you’re down … I think with the exception of a ballgame or two from the All-Star break on, I think we have just been outstanding in terms of effort and attitude. Our fans respond to the energy on the field. It’s a beautiful situation. It’s got the potential to be a beautiful situation, I should say. Because the players want it, the fans want it. I think we’re getting closer.”

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Mark Zuckerman

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