USA Today Sports Images
Dan Haren watches as Adeiny Hechavarria circles the bases in the fourth.
They also had a swagger, starting with their manager, that suggested a ballclub with no fear and every reason to believe it could live up to the lofty expectations placed upon it.
That may still all prove true in the end, and the Nationals are by no means in shambles at the moment, still sitting two games above .500 with as talented a roster as there is in the sport. But there's no question that swagger has diminished some during the season's first two weeks, especially in the case of a couple of veteran players with strong track records who suddenly find themselves struggling unlike either ever has before.
The Nationals' 8-2 loss to the Marlins on Tuesday night — their fourth loss in five days — became reality after a mid-game meltdown precipitated by mistakes made by Ryan Zimmerman and Dan Haren.