Seventh Inning Magic
Wow. What a difference a few days makes. Just this weekend, we were crying in our beer over a sweep at the hands of the lowly Reds and losing two of three from the Cardinals. But after grinding out two wins over the first-place Braves, our lovable Nats are a game and a half out of first place. Baseball is a funny, funny game, and I think that's why I love it so much.
Nick Johnson is one of my heroes. Before the season, I was disappointed when his #24 was the only jersey/t-shirt left in the store. "Man, he's just going to get hurt or stink." I bought it anyway. Now, the man has reached base in something like all but 3 of the games this year. He drove in the winning runs today, going 2-3 with a walk and 2 RBIs. Add that to the fact I've seen him sign autographs for fans a least a half dozen times this year, he's probably one of my favorites now.
Give credit to Patterson too. He pitched a rough first inning, but settled down and cruised through the fifth inning.
I also think I have a man-crush on Chad "Chief" Cordero, too. He gave up a leadoff dinger to Franco in the ninth to make it a 5-4 game. Then he allowed two singles to Jones and Estrada. Then my fellow duck-footed 23 year-old settled down and got an out on a fielder's choice and struck out two more to end the game. Sweet!
And let's not let Gary Majewski go unnoticed. He pitched the eighth inning, walking one and striking out two to get his eighth hold of the year. He continued to absolutely rock-solid for the Nats; he's allowed only three runs in 20 appearances this year.
Now for the negatives in this game (CYNICISM ALERT!):
Frank did his best to blow this one, though. Chris Needham, eat your heart out. Frank pulls Patterson after 75 pitches and 5 innings. Except for a 30 pitch first inning where he gave up one hit and one run, Patterson was rolling. JP had to have been hurt or hurting, since there's no other rational explanation. Unless he was hurting, Patterson could have gone one more inning and still been under 100 pitches. Then, you only have to rely on the pen for three innings instead of four. Frankie drives me batty.
In Frankie's defense, however, he figured out the double-switch in the eighth. Church pinch-hit for the pitcher in the seventh and stayed in the field, while Majewski went in the sixth slot for Byrd who was the last batter in the seventh. Holy double-switch, Batman! And Churchy had two hits, scoring one of the runs.
And good ol' Guzman grounded into two DPs in his first two at-bats to end great scoring opportunities for the Nats. And in the sixth inning, the asshat bunts with two outs and two guys on base to end ANOTHER great scoring opportunity. Please, please, please, please sit Guzzy for at least one game, Frankie. Please!
All in all, I'm thrilled. This team continues to thwart all logic and win games. I won't piss off some people [cough, Needham, cough] and say that this team is scrappy and gritty. Let's just say I LOVE the way this team fights and claws, despite injuries, despite a craptastic shortstop, and despite a manager that boggles the mind. Go Nats!