Monday, August 01, 2005

#!&@ you Jobu, I do it myself

That's a bit more like it.

Sunday's 4-2 win over the Marlins was the type of game the Nats usually won in June, but couldn't find a way to win in July. On the last day of that wretched month of July, Nick Johnson and Livan Hernandez led the Nats to a win, preventing a zero for the road trip disaster.

Livan was ¡Livan!, going 8 innings and throwing 145 pitches. "I wouldn't be able to wipe my fanny the next day if I did that," said Marlins pitcher Brian Moehler. Livan also made Marlins manager Jack McKeon look dumber than Frank Robinson, driving in a run after Guzman was intentionally walked to load the bases.

¡Livan! and Gary Bennett also made an excellent play in the second inning, sniffing out a suicide squeeze. The pitch was thrown high, and Bennett tagged out the runner who was breaking for the plate.

Nick Johnson heated up, belting two big hits and two RBIs, including a 429 foot blast in the ninth to tack on an insurance run. He also made several fine plays in the field, one of which aggravated his heel. Hopefully he'll be alright for Tuesday.

Vidro, Wilkerson, Castilla and Schneider all did not start the game - for either rest or injury purposes, or perhaps some combination of both. Unless some of these injuries are serious, which is a possibility, I take this as an encouraging sign. Frank had seemed unwilling to rest guys who were a little banged up, which was probably in no small part to Guillen's insistence that he and others go out and play, even if they were hurt.

Now I'm all for playing through a little pain. The modern athlete sometimes likes to take himself out if he feels a little twinge. But there comes a point when an injured talented player can be harmful to the team. It's best that he gets a day off to rest, while someone who's healthy gets a shot in the field. Hopefully this trend will continue.

Where do we go from here? The Nats began the week in first place in the NL East, but close it out five games back in the division and one game back in the wild card. It's very tempting to write off the season, due to the fact this team has fallen so hard and so fast. But if you choose to look on the bright side, we're still within striking distance of the playoffs.

A 29-28 record to close out the season would put us at 85 wins, which is enough to have an outside shot at the wild card, perhaps. Add a few wins to that total, and we're right in the mix.

It might take another hot streak of June-like proportions to guarantee a playoff spot. Some say our 20-6 record in the month of June was a fluke. And perhaps it was statistically improbable. But if the Nats are capable of doing it once, there's no reason it would be impossible to do it again.

And even if they don't make the playoffs, the fun will be in watching them try.

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