Monday, August 15, 2005

Rocky Mountain High

Nats sweep Rockies: 4-2, 8-0, 9-2

I was in and out all weekend, but I saw enough of the Saturday and Sunday games to notice one very important thing. The Nats were smiling again.

Sure, they swept the Rockies, the worst team in the National League. And they did it in Coors Field, one of the best hitting parks ever.

But you've got to crawl before you can walk. Going into Colorado, they absolutely had to take two of three from the lowly Rockies. Not because failure would mathematically end the playoff chase, but because it would further drive the Nats into a funk.

Instead they responded in rather inspiring fashion, impressing even the most critical eye. Guillen stepped up on Friday, singling in two runs in the first inning, while Loaiza and the bullpen held the Rockies at bay. Armas and Patterson both got it done on Saturday and Sunday, despite each allowing an average of over one hit per inning. Johnson and Vidro stand out offensively from the latter two games, though nearly everyone had a contribution in some form.

The sweep pulled the Nats to within one game of the Wild Card lead. But the sweep is more important for what it does for the team's psyche. It hopefully has made them believe in themselves again. Winning the way they used to -- good pitching, timely hitting and some nice defense -- should bring back some of the old swagger.

And it couldn't come at a better time, as the road trip moves to Philadelphia and New York. It's yet another key point in the season, as the next seven games against the two division opponents is a prime opportunity to pick up some more steam in the drive for October


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