Thursday, June 30, 2005

Avast Ye



Washington 7, Pittsburgh 5

Well, once again, I don't have an angle to write about. The Nats win again, in yet another game that defies rational description.

Except for the fact the Nats never trailed and scored more than three runs, it was a familiar script.

The Nats managed six runs in the first three with another makeshift lineup, punctuated by Schneider's two run shot into the Pirates' bullpen.

Starting pitching was mostly outstanding. Esteban Loaiza pitched 4 2/3 innings of no-hit ball. But he fell apart in the fifth and sixth, allowing hits to five of six batters before being lifted. The book closed on Loaiza with him allowing four runs and five hits in 5+ innings.

The bullpen came in and got the job done, with Ayala allowing the only run by the bullpen. Chad Cordero was up to his old tricks again, allowing two hits to start the ninth before retiring the side for his 28th save of the year. He tied the Major League record for saves in a month and broke the Montreal/Washington franchise record for consecutive saves.

My favorite part of this game, though, was the ovation the crowd of 37K+ gave Chief and the team after the game. Frank pumped his fist in the air, and the players waved to the crowd. It's been said ad nauseum, but this has truly been a remarkable half-season so far. I'm loving every minute.

Swingin' In The Rain

Does anything faze these guys? Take a 1-0 lead into a two-hour plus rain delay and then give up the go-ahead home run on the first pitch back from the delay - you might say the game that things don't look so good.

But the Nats found a way to win - again. Ryan Vogelsong walked in the tying run in fourth inning, and Jose Guillen's double off the foot of Rob Mackowiak plated Baerga for the go-ahead run in the eighth. And that, of course, was all that Chief Cordero needed, slamming the door for his 27th save, the 24th consecutive opportunity he's converted.

The Nats pulled it out again, despite Frank's genius idea to give the carcass of Wil Cordero another start at first base. Coco picked up the Golden Sombrero, dropping his season average to .031. Unless you're freaking Methuselah, you don't deserve to be starting when your average is less than your age. Do us a favor, Frank; put Blanco at first today or put him in the outfield and move Wilk to first.

The Nats go again at 1:05 p.m. today, looking to pick up the sweep and move 16 games over .500.
Nats 3, Bucs 2

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Yup, I stayed up for the whole thing. I don't know what to say anymore. I almost expect wins like this now. And seriously, I think I will bawl uncontrolably when Chief finally blows a save. That's how confident I am in that guy.

FIFTEEN f***ing games over .500. Wow.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Will the real Ryan Drese please stand up?

Washington 2, Pittsburgh 1



What an ugly ass game. Pretty much all the run scoring plays were at least an indirect result of bonehead fielding plays. Wilk got a bad read on a ball hit by Jason Bay in the first inning, which landed maybe twenty feet away from him for a double. Weird ass play. Daryle Ward singled him home, which was the only run Drese allowed.

The Nats took the lead in the fourth without getting a hit. Guillen was hit by a pitch, or that's what the home plate ump said at least. Vinny walked to put runners at first and second.

Now, I sometimes defend Frank when people criticize him. But telling Marlon Byrd to bunt with two on and no outs and the absolutely worthless carcass of Wil Cordero on deck is perhaps the stupidest thing I can imagine.

Luckily for the Nats, though, Byrd popped up the bunt, which Fogg fumbled, and then threw away at third base trying to get Guillen. The error allowed the run to score. Tie game.

Cordero managed to somehow find a way to drive in a run, scoring Castilla on a sac fly. That usually goes in the books as an RBI, but I'm going to petition that it be withheld from Cordero due to extreme suckiness. 2-1 Nats, and that would be it for the scoring.

Drese was lights out again. Without the fielding brain fart by Wilkerson, he probably throws shut-out ball. He pitched eight, allowing only five hits and a single run. He managed to somehow wiggle out of a two on, nobody out jam in the seventh. Drese's arm angle varied a bit, but when he held his arm closer to his head in the overhand position, his sinker and slider bordered on filthy.

So it seems like it's night and day with Drese. Three games isn't a huge sample size, but I guess if we can get tonight's version of Drese every other start, then that's not bad for a fifth starter.

Not to mention the fact that grinding out a win with Church and Johnson on the bench and Guillen hurting is a big accomplishment.

...and even free online bankin'



Props to Brad Wilkerson for coming out to the Sprint Store on Richmond Highway in Alexandria last night to sign some autographs. It wasn't a huge turn-out, but I don't think they did much publicity for the event.

Brad was very gracious, signing multiples for a lot of people, even the obvious collectors. He really lit up for the little kids, especially the ones dressed in Nats stuff. I asked him how the forearm was feeling, and he said it was much better. I shook his hand and thanked him, hopefully dispelling the possibility that I was a stereotypical twenty-something male who just wanted an autograph to sell.

I really hope more events like these keep popping up. It's a great way to connect younger fans with their new team.

Monday, June 27, 2005

This must be what it's like to have kids...



I had such a busy weekend. The future Mrs. Rocket1124 was in town, and we were up around 8 am every day this weekend in order to run errands. Friday after I got home from work, we spent five hours at the mall finishing up our wedding registry. Saturday, we drove all over creation looking for an apartment. We also went to the jewelry store. Sunday, we were up early in order to meet her sister at RFK.

Finally, something worth waking up for. But I was so damn tired, I barely paid attention to the game. I did, however, pay close enough attention to notice that Tony Armas is frustratingly worthless. I mean, I thought the guy was about to turn a corner. He pitched 4 1/3 innings of no-hit ball, marred only by an unearned run due to an error from P.B. Bennett. Then he hangs a pitch to Hudson, who drills into the bullpen. TA2 then proceeded to load the bases and hang another pitch to Hillenbrand, who drove in two more. Bah.

The Nats did tie it, thanks to Nick Johnson bruising his heel because of that jerk Zaun guarding the plate even though he had no play. Hopefully Nick's alright. We can't afford to lose him for an extended period of time.

The bullpen is definitely overworked, and it showed. Ayala gave up another home run to Hudson in the eighth, which was effectively the difference. Ayala has done relatively well, by and large, but he just seems tired. Maybe that one's on the starting pitching. The back of the rotation never eats as many innings as they should, but in the first two games of the series even ¡Livan! and Loaiza didn't go as long as they're usually capable of.

A side note: I was disappointed with a turnout of 33K and change yesterday. Maybe it was too hot or people had plans, but after a 39K crowd on Saturday, I thought we'd crack 40K on Sunday.

In the end, I'll always take a series win, no matter what.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

We Got Fun 'N' Games

Nationals 5, Pirates 4



Another day, another game that defies description. Another Nats win that had a little bit of everything.

The first couple innings were like home run derby. Guillen went yard for his first dinger of the game, and Ryan "Patches" Church nearly followed suit, doubling in NJ for a 2-0 first inning lead.

John Patterson, who was questionable to start today, didn't do so hot in the first two innings. I think Ron Darling may have had an actual good point. He said the Patterson may have been a little too comfortable, throwing too many strikes instead of mixing up the pitches. The Pirates took advantage, hitting three home runs for a 4-2 lead.

Guillen freakin' ate his Wheaties though, drilling another solo bomb in the top of the 3rd to cut the lead to 4-3.

Then it really quieted down. Patterson settled, retiring something like 10 or 11 batters in a row. The Nats couldn't muster much either, until the fifth when Carroll was hit by a pitch. Guillen got his third hit. Halfway into Nick Johnson's at-bat, Guillen took off stealing second. He was caught in a run-down and Carroll was able to score to tie the game before Guillen was tagged for the final out.

Patterson got into a jam in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with one out, thanks to a little help from the home plate ump's strike zone. Hector "Found Money" Carrasco came in and put out the fire. (I like St. Barry, but that nickname doesn't do it for me)

The Nats got into the game with home runs, but it was Brian Schneider's bloop single in the eighth is what scored the go-ahead run.

Chad Cordero came in and got two quick outs. Then Humberto Cota hit a line drive shot to the wall in left field. "Patches" Church got on his horse, slamming into the wall as he squeezed the ball for the final out. I'm convinced this guy is our outfielder of the future. TREEE-mendous catch.



After the game, he said this: "It hurts. But I made the catch [and] we got the 'W,' so let's get out of here. I'll be sore for a while, but we got the win, so it's worth it." Gotta love that guy.

Nats in a nutshell. One guy steps up big - Guillen. Pitching finds a groove - Patterson and Carrasco. A key hit falls in - Schneider. Chief gets another save. Someone makes a tremendous defensive play - Church. What can you say? These are the Nats I love.

We scratched out a 5-4 road trip, despite some injuries and a heavy toll on the bullpen. We really need that off day tomorrow.

All Hail the Saint



I'm sure most of you read it anyway, but be sure to read Barry Svrluga's game story of Wednesday's victory. He is one heck of a writer. His stories are simple, but very well crafted. I love how he leads with Church lying on the ground after his dandy catch, ending with Church's quote "It was worth it." Very nicely tied together. Simple. No wasted words. And he paints a complete picture. We're lucky to have him covering our team.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

And Sometimes It Rains

Pittsburgh 11, Washington 4

Not this time

Repeat after me. The. Sky. Is. Not. Falling. Don't go all Chicken Little on me, Nats fans. Even great teams have off days. And we're not even a great team.

To put it simply, the pitching didn't get it done tonight.

Let's start with Drese. Our newest acquistion followed up his 2-hit shutout debut with a three inning, five earned run debacle of an outing. Now before we get all nostalgic for Tomo Ohka, try to remember how many times the Landlord pissed us off. Ohka got smacked around last night too, allowing five runs (four earned) to the Cubs. We shouldn't have got too excited by one great game from Drese, and we shouldn't get too depressed by one bad game from him. It's a long season.

Luis Ayala had jack tonight. It seemed like he couldn't get anyone out in the seventh, and Matt Lawton's bomb was the fatal blow in that inning. Only a dandy throw from Wilkerson to nab Bobby Hill at the plate (not to mention a favorable call from the ump) prevented more runs from scoring.

I had lost interest in the game by the eighth, but Majewski got ripped again for four runs in that inning.

I think it's clear the bullpen is tired, probably from the Texas series. Even in the Texas game we won, the starter Sunny Kim didn't even go 5 innings. The pen pitched 10 and 1/3 of the 25 innings in the Texas series. Not a great figure, especially over three days. It caught up to us tonight.

And it's not like the hitting was all that good. Four runs is often adequate, but it's not like we didn't have the chance to get more. We left 10 runners on base, four of them in scoring position with two outs. The pitching isn't always going to carry the team, four runs won't always be enough.

Baseball is a game of patience, in just about every facet. There's no such thing as instant gratification, which is likely why it's not as popular as it used to be. But a 162 game season is a long one, and as Scarlett O'Hara said: "Tomorrow is another day."

Notes:
- Frank yanking Drese in the middle of a batter is a bastard of a thing to do. But that's Frank. Sometimes tough love works.
- The Phillies lost, thank the Lord. We didn't lose any ground to them.
- As of this evening, apparently Patterson is still hurting from his back problems. Another injury in the pitching staff is not good. If he can't go tomorrow, would Loaiza make the start?

Keep it rollin

Nats 7, Bucs 4



I'm not sure I like the way my attitude toward this team has evolved. I still love them to death, but I'm not as excited by success as I used to be. I expect it now. And I'm crushed by failure or ineffectiveness.

First inning. Guillen drills a home run to center field. 1-0, Nats. Excellent.

Bottom of the first. Three Pirate singles tie the game. 1-1. DAMMIT!

Even success from Cristian Guzman doesn't faze me anymore. When he doubled in two runs in the top of the second, the most emotion I showed was a fist pump.

We never relinquished that lead. The most excited I got after that was when Vinny's error nearly led to a Pittsburgh big inning in the seventh.

I think the lack of emotion over day-to-day success is a good thing. In a 162 game season, too much emotion over every pitch might literally kill you. Rather, calm measured reactions are how you keep a level head. It's a sign that we're in it for the long haul. It says the team is firmly entrenched in our hearts.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Cut to the Chase

Nats 8, Rangers 2



Hey Brad Wilkerson! Nice to see you! Glad you could make it to the game today!

In all seriousness, it's great to see Wilky hitting again. He really seems to be hurting of late. Wilk hasn't missed too many games, but he seems to grimace a bit when he swings and runs after balls in the field.

Today he was 3-5 with four RBIs and another double to add to his Major League leading total of 26. Wilk hadn't necessarily stunk up the joint of late, but I think I'm probably not the only one who hasn't felt confident when he came to the plate in key situations.

Sunny Kim got it done today too before coming out with an arm cramp. His stuff was really nasty, and he did what Patterson and Armas failed to do - mix up his pitches and locate throughout the zone. Recent call-up Travis Hughes, Luis Ayala and Gary Majewski all did fine jobs in relief, keeping the Rangers at bay.

We're 3-3 after six games on the road against the best teams in AL West. Not bad. Time to open a can of you-know-what on the hapless Pirates.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Rangers are good, damn good

Rangers 7, Nationals 4



Not much to say about this one. I mean, there's not much room for error when it comes to the Nationals to begin with. But when you're facing an offense like Texas', you have to be almost perfect. And Tony Armas was anything but.

Just like Patterson, it was almost like TA2 made too many good pitches. (EDIT: As Chris made me realize, "good pitches" is the wrong way to put it. More accurately, it was too many fastballs over the plate.) Good major league hitters, like the Rangers, are going to smack around pitches that are consistently over the plate. Armas doesn't have a good off-speed pitch, and he left too many fastballs over the plate. Texas hammered him for 4 home runs in the first 2 innings. That was your ballgame right there.

I give Frank a lot of credit for letting TA2 pitch himself through it all, however. Armas settled down, and pitched adequately through the next three innings. That can only help him in the future; I'm sure leaving the game with a not-so-bitter taste in his mouth will help him next time out.

An aside: it looks Guzzy might be waking up. Two long HRs in the last two games. Good for him. That can only help the team.

And kudos to Ryan "Patches" Church as well. He was 3-4 tonight with two home runs. I know C.J. Wilson is pitching for the Rangers tomorrow, and he's a lefty. But PLEASE, Frank. Let Church DH tomorrow. Wil Cordero is useless, and Churchy is having himself a year. Please.

All that said, the Nationals are a decent team. But they're not a great team. If they're going to compete, they don't have that much room for error. And a good team like Texas is going to take advantage of any chance you give them.

Damn DH

Rangers 8, Nationals 1

Screw Bob Short!

I wasn't planning on posting at all this weekend, but I had some constructive thoughts on what I saw of last night's game.

Damn, those Rangers are good. As a pitcher, you really can't make any mistakes against them. John Patterson didn't pitch horrendously, but he wasn't nearly creative enough to hold the Texas offense at bay. I mean, Teixeira had like a 20-pitch at bat in the first inning. That was a sign of a rough night to come.

To oversimplify things, he threw too many fastballs near the center of the plate. I thought his curveball was working fine when he threw it, but he should have mixed it in to a greater degree. Plus, he needed to work the outer thirds of the plate better. The home plate ump was giving the outside strike rather consistently.

And we have to do better on offense, especially when playing in an American League park. We plenty of opportunities, too. We left nine guys on base. In all fairness, it was a makeshift lineup, what with Jose Guillen not feeling well and Ryan Church and Brian Schneider sitting due to the platoon. But I really don't understand what Wil Cordero is still doing in the Major Leagues. He left 4 runners in scoring position while making the third out of the inning.

No reason to panic, though. We started off the Anaheim series in a similar fashion, getting shellacked in game one. Tonight we send Tony Armas, Jr. to the hill against Ricardo Rodriguez. Can anyone get some pine tar on Rodriguez's glove before the game?

Here's to Skip

Take a gander over to all-baseball.com and read Peter Handrinos' column on our "semi-beloved" skipper, Frank Robinson. He captures the complicated essence of Frankie fairly well.

Skip

Here's a sample:

It’s easy to appreciate that kind of legacy, and rooting for Robinson is especially easy nowadays. Robinson’s Nationals ball club has been the surprise team of the young 2005 season, recently topping the National League East on the strength of a perfect ten winning streak. No one knows how long the Nats’ streak will last- the consensus is that they’re playing way over their modestly-talented heads- but let it be said that Washington’s reintroduction to Major League Baseball has been an especially fun and popular comeback thanks to Robbie’s roster.

Regardless of the team’s ultimate fate, however, it’s impossible not to root for the Nationals’ leader. For all his undeniable flaws, Robinson has proven himself so often on the field, has achieved so much off the field, and has embodied so many of the very best qualities of a Pastime lifer.

Ya gotta love the man. When Frank Robinson wins, baseball wins.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Deep in the Heart...

Tonight, Washington finally gets a crack at the team it used to call its own, the Texas Rangers.

Short Stinks

I wasn't born in 1971 when the Senators left for Texas. But I'm sure there are plenty of Washingtonians who hope Bob Short is burning in hell.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Shifting Perceptions

Washington Nationals 1, Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim Orange Co. 0



After Tuesday night's game and the pine-tar glove incident, many Washington fans have come to realize the extent of Frank Robinson's leadership skills. He may make some dopey moves, but Frank is a master button busher - nearly everyone will agree on that. Just look at St. Barry's profile of Frankie or Boz's love fest for the old skipper. Point is, several weeks ago, many were calling for Frank's head. Now, some realize he is a master leader.

Should we also reconsider our negative perceptions of Jim Bowden, the MLB appointed GM of this team? After last night's performance by Ryan Drese, we should definitely think about it. Drese, who was a key signing off waivers, is the linch-pin to the Ohka-Spivey deal. Without Drese to replace Ohka in the rotation, the trade with Milwaukee makes very little sense.

I was optomistically lukewarm on the deal, and I was one of the more positive bloggers on this situation. Spivey has already made a difference for the Nats, hitting a key homerun over the weekend and making many fine defensive plays. Drese was the only question mark. But last night he slammed the door on one of the best offenses in the American League.

His 8 innings of 2-hit shutout ball doesn't by any means prove that Bowden is a genius. Drese could still tank in his next start. (And Ohka did throw a complete game shutout Tuesday) But Drese showed a lot of confidence and ability on the mound last night, which exhibits the potential that he does have.

There's still a long way to go. But if Drese can keep pitching to his ability, and Spivey keeps making great plays at second, we may have to reconsider our opinions of Jim Bowden as well.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Enter the Saint

St. Barry steps to the podium at 2 pm today. Let's hope he has some great tidbits on last night's donnybrook.

In other news, a vision of St. Barry was spotted outside of an Inglewood, CA Panera Bread this morning.

It's a miracle!

Rubbing the sleep out of my eyes...

Yeargh!

Well, I'm late to comment about last night's game. I overslept after the adrenaline rush of beating the snot out of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim/Orange County/California/USA/Earth. Needless to say, my boss (whom I always tease about showing up late for work) was loving the irony of me rolling in late.

I'm going to bullet point my response to last night, since many people have already commented and I'm sure you've read them already.
  • I don't give crap why Donnelly had pine tar in his glove. Rule 8.02b says that's cheating. End of discussion.
  • Mike Sciosciasciaosicaioscia had no basis to feel wronged. Your pitcher was caught cheating. Mouthing off about it is uncalled for. The Angels are not the victim.
  • Say what you want about Frank's gameday managing. He's a master leader of men. I have no doubt that every guy on that team, especially Guillen, would lay down in traffic for Frankie.
  • Guillen proves every day why he's one of my favorites. "He was disrespecting my manager" was the reason he gave for going batshit last night. You have to admire that devotion in anyone.
  • And then "Pops" calms down just long enough to focus and drill a laser beam home run to tie the game. After the pine tar glove incident, I never had any doubt we were going to win.
  • To those who say checking the glove was bush league: BULL ... SHIT! Donnelly was caught cheating. When I disagree with people, I can usually understand their arguments. Claiming that getting caught cheating is bush league, I just don't get it.
  • Needless to say, there's the strong possibility that Guillen gets drilled tonight. In the words of our presidential candidates: Bring. It. On. You will get yours in return.

Wow

Nats 6, Angels 3

If you really got to read a summary of the game now, then click here. Bottom line, the Nats pulled it out, despite controversy.

I'll write more once I have the chance to digest all this crap.

GO NATS!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Nightmares

Angels 11, Nationals 1

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I had a pretty disturbing dream last night. Riding a 10 game winning streak, the Nats went into Anaheim/Los Angeles/Orange County/California/West Coast to play the Angels. The (Whereever the hell they're from) Angels were leading the AL West, but we had Esteban Loaiza, one of our more solid pitchers on the mound.

But Loaiza didn't have his stuff. He was tagged for two runs in the first inning by a potent Angel offense. After settling down for two innings, he allowed three more runs in the fourth before manager Frank Robinson told him his day was over. The bullpen wasn't any good either in my dream, they allowed another half dozen runs.

I dreamt that meanwhile, Jose Guillen was getting lustily booed by the Angel fans. Apparently, he wasn't very nice to his team in Anaheim/LA/whatever. If only those stupid fans could see him now in the clubhouse in Washington. They'd be proud of "Pops." Guillen drove in the only run for the Nats as well, prompting more boos.

In my nightmare, it became evident how small a margin for error the Nationals have. Big innings by the opponents have to be minimized. The offense has to start delivering guys home when they get on base. Most importantly, the Nationals can't give up. I dreamed they were very frustrated and despondent once they fell behind, totally uncharacteristic of this team.

Nope, it wasn't a dream, unfortunately. But tonight is another night.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

10!

WSH 3, SEA 2

We win again!

Want to know how confident I am about this team? With the Nats clinging to a 2-0 lead in the sixth, I feel asleep until the ninth inning. When I woke up, it was only 3-2. No big deal. We win again.

I was really impressed with the was Armas pitched. Sure, TA2 threw 107 pitches in five innings. But that's partly because Seattle hitters gave him some real tough at-bats. TA2 did a great job of locating his pitches, however, keeping Seattle off balance for the most part. Some great situational pitching by him.

And how about Junior Spivey? Tomo Ohka can't hit like that. He flat out destroyed that pitch from Franklin. And a nice little play by Guzman to end the game.

My favorite part was the ovation the team got after the game ended. The guys appreciated that, I'm sure - and Frankie tipped his cap.



From the AP story:

"It's been a long time coming. We feel energized by our situation now," outfielder Brad Wilkerson said. "To walk off and know they recognize what we do is just a great feeling."

A 12-1 home stand, 10 game winning streak, and winners of 12 of the last 13. Now comes a bigger test, another West Coast swing. Let's hope we can do just as well as last time.

Ha!

Nats 2, M's 1

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We won again! I didn't see this one. But it sounds like the Nationals are a confident bunch. You gotta love it.

Three straight sweeps? We'll see!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Joy Reigns in the Giant Cement Cylinder

Nats 9, M's 3

Ichiro-san bows before Officer Schneider

I'm never, ever going to complain about a win. But what does one write about when the team has won eight straight and 11 of the last 12? One tends to run out of angles. Even St. Barry's article is a tad generic by his standards. He did have a good line, though. "Show up in the giant cement cylinder on the eastern edge of Capitol Hill, and this is what happens these days. A win, every single night." Giant cement cylinder. Not bad, St. Barry! EDIT: The link I provided was to a preliminary post-game story last night. Today, it links to the story in print edition of the Post. Another great effort from St. Barry.

I was at this one, joining some old high school friends who made RFK the second stop of their week-and-a-half ballpark tour of the East and Midwest. So I didn't pay as close attention as I might normally. But it did seem Sunny Kim had his mojo working in the few few innings. Tomo Who? He retired the first six in order, and faced only the minimum through three innings. But in the fourth inning, after a few hits and a few fielder's choices (is that the proper possessive for a fielder's choice? Can I get a ruling?) the Mariners picked up two runs.

In the bottom of the fifth, with Schneider on second base, Rick "Moonlight" Short pinch-hit for Kim. In his first major league at-bat, Short singled to left, driving in Schneider for the Nats' first run of the game. What a special moment for Short. Apparently he was in tears in the dugout afterward, no doubt in large part to the likelihood he will be sent back down to New Orleans in the next day or two.

Sexson extended Seattle's lead in the top of the sixth, hitting a monster bomb a couple rows deep into the left field upper deck. Washington got one back in the bottom of the inning, when "Pops" Guillen singled in "Patches" Church, who lead off the inning with a double. The Nats tied it in the bottom of the seventh, when Marlon Byrd (pinch hitting for Guzman) singled in Junior Spivey, who pinch-ran for Baerga.

Then came the eighth. Washington sent 13 batters to the plate, scoring six runs on only three hits and five walks - two of which forced in runs.

The big hit belonged to Schneider, who singled in two runs with the bases loaded. Jamey Carroll, the defensive replacement for Guzman, beat out a squeeze bunt, scoring another run.

Another notable is Guillen's defense. In the top of the fifth, with runners on first and third and one out, Randy Winn flied out to Guillen - deep enough to score the run on mere mortal outfielders. But "Pops" fired a strike to Schneider at the plate, who fielded the ball on a short hop. Amazing.

It turned into a laugher in the eighth inning, but this one felt nice. Schneider got the big hit, but lots of guys contributed. Church, Guillen ... even Rick Short had big hits. Oh, and congrats to Wilk, who got his 500th career hit with a triple in the 3rd.

Nine games over .500. First place. Sweet.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Roster Shakeup

An hour after hearing about the Ohka-Spivey trade, I have some initial reactions.

Ohka's had some decent starts this year, but he doesn't look anything like what he has in the past. His strikeout and walk numbers have been abysmal, and since he's a contact pitcher, he can't really afford to give up too many free baserunners or free outs.

He has also been unhappy with his role on the team. When sent to the bullpen earlier in the year, Ohka indicated he wanted to be traded. When Frankie came out to yank him Thursday, he turned his back on the skipper - in an already well-publicized incident.

Spivey is a former all-star second baseman with a career average of .272 and a career OPS of .794. He started slow in 2005, but is a great addition for a team with no middle infield depth. Carroll needs some days off, and Baerga is no more than an emergency starter. He'll get a lot of playing time until Vidro comes back. And when Vidro does come back, Spivey is a great guy to have on the bench - which would also free up Carroll to be a utility player on the left side of the infield.

Ryan Drese, who was picked up on waivers, is a solid addition to replace Ohka. He was Texas' Opening Day starter. Apparently, he's a power pitcher who was forced to learn a sinker in order to succeed in the bandbox ballpark in Texas. Throw him in the NL with half the games at spacious RFK, he has a chance to be a very serviceable #4 starter.

Think about it this way:
-- Ohka, who wasn't pitching particularly well, didn't want to be here. He's gone.
-- Spivey gives us good middle infield depth as a backup for Vidro. That frees up Carroll to backup SS and 3B. It also frees up Baerga from having to play the field.
-- Drese didn't do so hot in Texas as the #1 starter. But he has the potential to be above average in the #4 or #5 role. Zach Day's return would give us some rotation depth.

Two things concern me. First, I wonder if this means Vidro's injury is worse than reported. I sure hope not. Second, this doesn't bode well for the big league prospects of Brendan Harris and Rick Short, at least in the near future. We'll have to see on that.

All in all, it's not a roster shakeup that I'm in love with. But it has the possibility of working out very well.

---------------------------------

EDIT, 1:57 AM, Saturday:

The posters at Capitol Dugout are going bananas over this trade. There's plenty of rational arguments against it, but they're being ridiculous. I posted a long reply, which crystalizes my thinking about this. I've posted it below:


Most of you are being Chicken Littles about this trade.

We had depth at second tier starting pitchers. Sure, it's nice to have starting pitcher depth, and guys do get hurt.

But we had ZILCH depth at middle infield, something we desperately needed to fix. Trading Ohka, a guy who did not want to be here, is a good way to get middle infield depth.

Maybe Ohka is more valuable than Spivey by the pure numbers. But the goal is not to collect the best 25 players. The goal is to get the best team. I think the Yankees have proved so far this year that a bunch of great players does not make a great team.

And let's not forget Ryan Drese. He's not a bad pitcher. Texas designated him for assignment, hoping no one would take him so they could send him to AAA, tweak his mechanics, then bring him back up. Before they could send him down, he had to clear waivers. The Nats claimed him. Jim Bowden said on the radio that Randy St. Claire thinks that he can help Drese with his mechanics. Drese, who was hurt by the small park at Texas, added a sinker recently to help him throw less fly balls. Now that he has the comfort of spacious RFK, he won't have to rely on the sinker as much, and he'll be able to mix his pitches.

So here's what happened today. We gave up Ohka, who has a decent ERA, but also has walked more guys than he has struck out. That's not good for a contact pitcher like Ohka. He also has been losing confidence and motivation.

We gain Spivey, a guy who's seen better days, but gives us much needed depth in the middle infield.

And we get Ryan Drese for free, a guy who with a little work has a lot of potential.

Trust me, the sky is not falling!

Sayonara, Landlord

From the transaction wire:

"Announced the retirement of outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds; acquired second baseman Junior Spivey from the Milwaukee Brewers for pitcher Tomo Ohka; claimed pitcher Ryan Drese off waivers from the Texas Rangers; claimed pitcher Jacobo Sequea off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles and optioned him to Harrisburg of the Eastern League (AA)."

Too shocked at Ohka trade to comment right now....

Big Wheels Keep On Turning

Washington 4, Oakland 3



The Nationals pulled out another one-run win, completing the three game sweep of the lowly A's. But this one was a little different. The Nats had to fend off a comeback by the other team. Washington jumped out to a four-run lead and seemed on the way to another shutout.

¡Livan! was not throwing hard early in the game, apparently because it was so humid. And as others have blogged before, I don't think it matters how hard he throws. As long as he can break 80 on the gun, he's got the ability to lob it up there at different speeds and at different arm angles. That's enough for him to get the job done.

For the second straight game, the Nats scored in the opening three innings. In the third, ¡Livan! himself got it started with a hard single up the middle. After Wilk lined out, Church singled sharply to right. "Pops" Guillen followed with a single to load the bases.

What else can you say about Nick Johnson? The man is simply on fire. The original Señor ­Nasty came up with the bases juiced and drilled a shot over the head of the center fielder for a bases-clearing double. Vinny doubled him in for a 4-0 lead.

Oakland got to Hernandez for two runs in the eighth, making it a save situation for Chad Cordero. Of course, "Chief" made it interesting, though it wasn't entirely his fault. With two outs and men on first and second via a pair of singles, Kendall hit a sharp grounder to Castilla. Vinny went the short way to second base for the force, but the throw was high and bounced off Baerga's glove. A run scored on Baerga's error.

Vinny made a rough throw, but both Vidro and Carroll probably snag that ball. Whether either could land on the base in time for the forceout, that's a different question. But if that ball's caught, the run probably doesn't score. Chief was able to bear down, though, converting his 17th save in 19 chances.
-------------
Notes:
-- There is no question in my mind that Nick Johnson deserves to be an All-Star. And if it weren't for guys like Derrek Lee, Todd Helton or Albert Pujols, NJ would be a lock. I just pray that LaRussa (the NL manager) notices how amazing Nick has been. He's reached base in all but two games he's played, and he has a .438 average with runners in scoring position. Nick's a pretty damn good fielder too. Although it'd be a shame to not play him in the field, perhaps LaRussa will select him to be the NL's starting DH in the All-Star Game. I think that would be very cool.
-- Church got drilled in the hip in the fourth inning. It sure looked intentional to me. He had already got a hit and scored a run in addition to his monster 4-5 game the previous evening. It's possible the A's were not happy with him for swinging at a 3-0 pitch with a five run lead the previous night.
-- Guillen has been hit eight times this year. Vinny was drilled Opening Night when he was at the plate looking for a cycle. Church's plunking last night sure looked intentional. The best revenge is living well, which the Nationals are certainly doing by winning 10 of the last 11 games. However, if this crap continues, I hope the team sends a message of their own.
-- Seattle comes in tonight for three games. They're not a great team, although they've been playing better of late. Ohka, Patterson and Armas will be going for the good guys. Two out of three will do just fine.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Hot Town, Summer in the City

Nats 7, A's 2



We sure deserved a game like this! Enough of these nail-biters from the so-called "one-run wonders." Esteban Loaiza loves it more than anyone, I'm sure.

Except for a brief hiccup in the first inning, Loaiza was outstanding, again. 7 IP, only two runs allowed. Give me that any day of the week.

Being a superfan is tiring, though. I fell asleep early in the game, waking up briefly when Church went yard to cut the deficit to 2-1. By the time I woke up for good, we were winning 4-2. That's what's great about baseball: fall asleep by the TV/radio, when you wake up, your team may have turned it around.

Nick Johnson had two hits again, but tonight, the original Señor Nasty must give way to Ryan Church, who had yet another monster game. He went 4-5, a double short of the cycle.

I'm a little concerned about "Pops" Guillen. He got hit in the hand again, which not only had to hurt like hell, it made him really, really mad. I'm impressed, though, at how quickly Frankie got out there and calmed him town.

I was preoccupied for much of the game, either napping or on the phone. I'm just going to sit back and enjoy what is becoming a very remarkable national (no pun intended) story. I turned to the Braves broadcast after the Nats game, and the announcers were marvelling at how well the Nats are playing. When you get compliments out of a homerific announcing team, you know you're playing well.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Same Old Story, Same Old Song And Dance

Nationals 2, Athletics 1

We did it again!

It's like someone wrote a script for the Nationals this year. Starting pitcher gives you a quality start, although it may not be exactly pretty. Tony Armas: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB. Someone steps up on offense. Nick Johnson: 2-3, 6th inning two-run homer. The bullpen provides good relief. 3 IP, 2 H, 1 BB.

I'm just in awe at this team. All the clichés more than apply to the Washington squad. And you already read my glowing tribute to our skipper, Frank Robinson. I won't try to come up with something new. I'll let my awe speak for itself.

I do want to give props to the RFK faithful. I was watching on the internet, but it seemed that the crowd came alive at all the right moments in the last few innings. When "Chief" Cordero got two strikes on a hitter in the ninth, the crowd came to its feet, practially willing Cordero to strike out the hitter. He only whiffed one guy in the ninth, but no matter. Chief stepped it up for his 16th save of the year, tying him for second place in the National League.

And we're slowly getting expanded coverage in the local and national markets. WTEM-980 spent almost the entire evening on the Nationals Monday night. That was good to hear, since they normally only give about 10 minutes to the Nats, while spending the rest of the evening talking about the smell of Joe Gibbs' flatulence.

ESPN's Baseball Tonight spent several minutes on the Nats. Gammons gave us credit for the best bullpen in the league; Reynolds marvelled at Nick Johnson's performance, while John Kruk gave the squad a ton of credit for their positive attitude and never-say-die mantra.

The Nats have won five straight and are 7-1 on the current homestand. Prior to this homestand -- and after the 2-9 roadtrip from hell -- Chris Needham hoped for a 8-5 homestand. Hell, let's go for a 10-3, maybe even a 11-2 homestand.

All I know is this: I'm not taking off my blue road fitted "W" hat for a long time.

Monday, June 06, 2005

In Defense of Skip

Our Skipper

The first-place Washington Nationals got me thinking. There is no rational statistical reason that this team should be in first place in June, even though it's only a half-game lead. There's no one star, there's no stat that jumps out as an explanation for this team's success. And it's not like they've been blowing out teams. Twenty-one of the Nats' 31 wins have been of the come-from-behind variety. There's got to be something else that can explain it. He's not the only reason, of course, but I believe Frank Robinson deserves some credit for cultivating a winning attitude on this team.

Driving back from the grocery store this evening, I tuned in to Sportstalk 980. Surprise, surprise, they were talking about the Nationals! That surprise aside, they were talking to the Capitol Punisher, Frank "Hondo" Howard. Hondo is a joy to listen to on any subject, but something about Frank Robinson struck me as particularly true.

Paraphrasing from memory, Howard said "It's said that a ballclub is a reflection of the manager's personality, and often that's true." He complimented the current Nats squad for their no-nonsense, fundamentally sound approach to the game.

Hondo recounted how Frank Robinson was one of the top competitors he ever played against. Again, I'm paraphrasing from memory, but Hondo's quote was something like this: "You play against Frank Robinson, you'd better have your shoelaces tied, because he's going to try to blow your socks off."

I'm one of the first to criticize some of Frankie's managerial moves. Here's the best example of me ripping on Frankie for his decisions. And many, if not most or all, of the Nats bloggers are on Frankie even harder than I am.

However, I really believe that F-Rob is a special presence in the clubhouse. I'm not saying that we're not rightly befuddled by Frankie sometimes. But the man comes to work wanting to win. But at the same time, he understands that a team can't win every day and keeping a confident attitude is important.

The 2004 Expos were a relatively young team that was put through hell. They were stripped down by MLB and forced to spend over 100 games on the road.

As Hondo attested on the radio tonight, Frankie is a no-nonsense competitor. I wasn't in the 2004 Expos clubhouse, of course, but I have to imagine that Frankie helped tune out the distractions for that team. The manager never deserves all the credit, and usually not even a majority of the credit -- but the effect of a competitive personality like Frankie upon a clubhouse can't be underestimated.

Flash-forward to 2005. The Ex-Expos are in Washington, D.C., a new situation, a new city, a new name. In its benevolence, Major League Baseball gives the Expos/Nats permission to trade and pursue a few free agents. Jose Guillen, Vinny Castilla, Esteban Loaiza and yes, Cristian Guzman are added to the mix. Suddenly, the orphans of MLB have more firepower and veteran leadership.

I really believe the relationship between Frank Robinson and Jose Guillen is emblematic of this team. Saturday night, Guillen was hit in the hand by a pitch. He was scratched for Sunday's game, but made it very clear to Frankie that he was available to play. From today's Washington Times:

"[In the seventh inning, o]ut of the dugout came Guillen, who wasn't supposed to play after getting hit on his right hand the night before but convinced Robinson he could come off the bench if needed. The Nationals' emotional leader drilled a single to right off reliever Jim Mecir, loading the bases and keeping the rally alive.

"'I looked at his hand today, and I said he can't play,' Robinson said. 'But he said, "I'll be available if you need me." He's done that all year, and I sure respect him for that.'"

This team wants to win, and Guillen is emblematic of that. I believe that Frankie sees some of his old competitive fire in Guillen, and Guillen really respects him in return. I keep flashing back to Guillen and Frankie shadowboxing in the dugout in Los Angeles. Guillen was playful like a little puppy, and Frankie was holding his hands up in self-defense like the old grandpa he is. Thursday, as Gary Bennett's game-winning soared into the outfield, Guillen tugged on Frankie's sleeve excitedly, like a little kid saying "We're gonna win, we're gonna win, we're gonna win!" Guillen loves playing the game, and Frankie is having the time of his life as well.

Frank Robinson isn't going to take any crap from players either. Some think Frankie overreacted in assesing Tomo Ohka a fine for turning his back on him Saturday night when he came to remove him from the game. I can entertain that argument to a degree. I'm sure Ohka was pissed, he wants to do well just as much as anyone.

But the other half of me says "so what?!" I firmly believe "tough love" is a good thing. The goal of the team is to win. Nothing more. The team doesn't exist to make Ohka feel good. Now, I like Tomo, and the coaches need to work with him to help him get better. But to give the manager attitude on the mound is unacceptable. Frankie won't tolerate that from anyone, and I'm grateful we have that kind of manager.

Add the Ohka incident to Marlon Byrd's "run-in" with umpire Joe Brinkman, and there's plenty of reasons the team could be distracted. Before Sunday's huge win, however, the team held a closed-door meeting, not to deal with Ohka and Byrd, but to address "the sloppy, unprofessional play that had begun to surface in recent days." (Wash Times)

And then the Nats went out there and executed. It wasn't pretty, but they delivered in clutch situations. This only bodes well for the team down the stretch.

The Nats are confident now. Frankie in Washington Post today:

"'It really builds resilience so when you do get in the ballgames later in the year with the pressure, you should handle it,' Robinson said. 'This is good for our run, it really is.'"

"Patches" Church added to that sentiment in the Times today:

"'Maybe it's our comfort zone,' Church said of Washington's 21st come-from-behind victory this year. 'We know going late into the game, we can come back. We've been there. We've done that. We just have confidence.'"

Baseball is a tough game; you win some, you lose some. Even the best teams go through hard times.

Horsin' Around with Skip

These guys know how to approach the game, though. Today's Times:

"'I'm in the clubhouse with these guys,' Robinson said. 'The way they conduct themselves, the way they talk, the way they deal with tough losses and the way they carry themselves the next day, it gives you a feeling about this ballclub that good things are going to happen, to them and for them.'"

The Nats know how to play baseball and play it the right way, especially over a long grueling season. Their heads are screwed on right. The Nats' attitude is a major key to their success. Confounding though he might be sometimes, our manager deserves a lot of credit for cultivating that positive yet cocky attitude.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Sweep!

Nats 6, Fish 3



If someone said the Nationals would be in first place in the NL East a week after Memorial Day, most rational people would have called you nuts.

But I get the feeling the members of this team wouldn't have called you nuts.

Off the road trip from hell, the Nats came home to RFK to face the two best teams in the division. It wasn't always pretty, but after winning 3 of 4 from the Braves and sweeping the Marlins, the Nats are now the best team in the division! Don't give this team an opening, because they will burn you.

It was a tough game today. John Patterson was very good, but A.J. Burnett was even better. He had his breaking stuff working, which made his 95+ mph fastball nearly impossible to hit.

But Burnett gave us an opening. He got wild in the seventh inning, walking Church. Schneider singled him to second, then Tony Blanco - starting because Guillen had a sore hand - drove in Church. Guillen pinch-hit for Guzzy and singled to load the bases. Baerga hit for the pitcher and took one from the team. He got hit on the knee, driving in a run. Byrd following with a sac fly to put the Nats ahead.

The Marlins tied it in the top of the eighth, but our boy Ryan "Patches" Church absolutely drilled a pitch from left-handed pitcher Matt Perisho into the bullpen for a game winning 3 run dinger. Who says Patches can't hit lefties?!

"Pops" Guillen fulfilled his role as clubhouse clown, giving Patches a plateful of shaving cream during his postgame interview. I love these guys!

Who says he can't hit lefties?!

Give the Nats an opening, and they're going to beat you.

We finally might be getting the national exposure we deserve. Here's the front page of ESPN.com this evening:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I fully expect some love from Baseball Tonight before the 8 pm game! Go Nats!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

I've run out of things to say

Washington 7, Florida 3



I don't know what to say anymore. This was an effing UGLY game early. But I give Frankie a TON of credit for pulling Ohka when he did. He ripped the ball away from him, as if to say "Dammit, gimme that! Stop walking people!"

If I had to give 3 stars, hockey style, I'd hand it out this way.

3rd Star: Jamey Carroll. 3 runs scored.
2nd Star: Nick Johnson. 2 RBIs.
1st Star: Sunny Kim. 3.1 IP, 0 R, 4 K.

We're 30-26. Second place in the NL East, a half game out of 1st.

I can't even discuss this rationally. Maybe I'll be back later if I can think of anything clever.

GO NATIONALS!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Bang! Zoom! (subtitle: Un-beee-leeee-vable!)

Nats 3, Fish 2 (11 inn.)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

(This post titled with apologies to Charlie Slowes.)

Even though I truly believe in most of the clichés surrounding this club, (i.e. gritty, scrappy, never-say-die) I do my best to avoid using them in my posts. It's just not creative. (Not like anything I write is actually creative.)

It's just so true, though, that this team is scrappy, gritty, etc. They have absolutely NO business winning this often. Don't get me wrong, they're a good team. At full strength, they could reasonably be expected to win about 75-80 games. Add the distractions of no ownership, all the injuries -- no one would blame this team for going under. But they don't care. I truly believe these guys just love playing baseball.

Even though I was an awful baseball player in my day, my favorite part of the game was the bench/clubhouse. I loved being on a team. I didn't contribute on the field at all, so I tried to be a force in the clubhouse.

I get the feeling I'd love to be part of the Nats clubhouse. I think they really enjoy each other. And even though trading away a guy or two might be in the best interests of the franchise long-term, I'm paranoid to mess with chemistry!

There was no real turning point in this game, no key event. It was just a grind it out win. ¡Livan! is a horse. He didn't have his best stuff (neither did Beckett for that matter) but look at the man's pitching line: 9 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 5 BB, 3 K and listen to this -- 150 pitches! According to ESPN, that's the most pitches in one game by a single pitcher in five years.

He's the primary star of this game, based on 150 pitches alone. The original Señor Nasty, Nick Johnson get props too, tripling in the games first run and working a walk in the 11th to keep the rally going.

We're a half game back from first place. I like our chances tomorrow if Ohka can pitch solidly.

Check my blog links...

Many thanks to Shane of Nationalz.com for his complimentary e-mail. He's been running his own site for quite a while now, and I just now noticed it. Check it out, if you got a second.

Us Nats Bloggers are a nutty bunch. Several of us blab all day at Yuda's open threads. Today, our good buddy "D", writer of the DCenters DC United blog, summed up the shtick of several of the Nat blogs in posts 305 and 312:

Capitol Punishment: In depth analysis of what exactly Frank did wrong most recently. Your jewish mother in law.

Nasty Nats: Gleeful homerism mixed with complete despair. Your bipolar younger sister that looks up to you.

Ball Wonk: Eloquent recaps from someone who thinks George Will is a really neat writer. Your Grandfather who read a lot of PG Wodehouse.

Beltway Boys: Good analysis of who the nats are playing combined with god-awful site design. Your cousin Dave who plays a mean guitar but still dresses in 70s prog-rock chic.

District of Baseball: Good roundups of local media coverage. Your nerdy brother that read the stock prices at age 10.

Distinguished Senators: Well reasoned analysis especially on roster and line-up moves with some humor that you can’t explain to your friends. Your cooler, smarter, anime-loving older brother who is probably a stoner.

I'm not sure I like the "younger sister" crack, but the bipolar thing is definitely true. There are plenty more good blogs that "D" didn't make fun of, too.

We're a good group, though -- drop in on the sites in my sidebar and enjoy the wackiness.

All hail the Saint

St. Barry of Svrluga is one damn good writer.

Last night's comeback win against the Braves was of epic proportions. All of us in Nats-land were absolutely giddy. I honestly don't think I can discuss this game rationally, at least without resorting to tired, over-used clichés about grit and determination -- true though they might be. It would be accurate to say the Nats are gritty, scrappy, etc... but that wouldn't be good writing.

Thank goodness for St. Barry, the patron saint of the Nats blogosphere.

"When the Washington Nationals reported to their dugout in the middle of the eighth inning last night, they left so much back out on the field. Two crucial errors, the ball knocking around RFK Stadium. Men picked off base that squelched two opportunities, double play balls that squashed two others. When they jogged in, a one-run lead against the Atlanta Braves had turned into a three-run deficit, and there was very little reason to puff out their chests.

"Yet tearing in from right field came Jose Guillen, ready to grip the bat and poke his teammates with it at the same time.

"'Let's go,' teammate Carlos Baerga recalled Guillen yelling. 'Let's show these people we can come back.'

"So they did."


Bennett was the primary offensive hero, but credit also goes to "Pops" Guillen and his attitude.

So many things went wrong. In the eighth, Majewski wasn't lights out for about the first time, well, ever. Nick Johnson, the original Señor Nasty, sits down with a case of acid reflux, forcing Big Boy Baerga to play first base in the eighth, despite the fact that Wilkerson was the logical replacement.

Well, Guzman one-hopped a throw to first base, which is not a problem if NJ is on the bag. But Baerga olé-d the throw, waving at it like a Little Leaguer who's scared of the ball. That should have been the last out of the inning, but it allowed Estrada to come up and drive home two runs, while a third scored on Wilkerson's poor throw.

But -- as St. Barry reported -- when the final out was made, "Pops" Guillen started yelling. And the Nats responded. I won't give you a blow-by-blow account of the bottom of the eighth, if you're reading this, I'm sure you saw it. Everybody stepped up. And the person I'm probably happiest for is Gary Majewski. He looked like he took his performance very, very hard -- sitting in the dugout with his head in his hands.

I wish I had a picture of Pops and Frankie as Bennett got his game-winning hit. They showed a replay on TV; Guillen was tugging on Frankie's sleeve like an excited little kid as Bennett's double fell into the gap. Gosh, I love that guy.

More words from the Saint:

"If there is psychology involved in sitting in second place rather than last -- even in June -- then, indeed, there is such a thing as a tremendous psychological win. Bennett provided it with his bat. Guillen provided it with his vocal chords. And the Nationals headed into the series against the Marlins with momentum that, only minutes before, they seemed unlikely to have."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Oh goodness!

Nats 8, Braves 6

PB Makes Good!

Oh my, that was huge! Majewski blows it in the eighth, but the offense picks him right back up in the bottom half with probably the best offensive display of the year. Amazing! And Guillen's reaction as Bennett's go-ahead double dropped in --- PRICELESS. He was tugging on Frank's sleeve as the ball fell in for a hit.

I love this team.

What a morale booster, going into a huge series versus the Marlins.

I'll write more once I've calmed down!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

In this town, your luck can change that quickly

Braves 5, Nats 4

So far this year, the trend for the Nats went like this. Struggle to score runs early in the game. If the starting pitcher pitches well enough to keep the Nats in the game, they might scratch out a few runs. Then the bullpen takes over and slams the door, and the Nats maybe win by one or two runs.

Tonight, Nick Johnson and Ryan Church led the way offensively, putting 3 runs on the board in the second inning. Armas pitches well enough to keep the lead.

Seventh inning, leading 4-2, Carrasco comes in and breezes through the inning for the Nats. Hector gets the first two hitters of the eighth, but loses Langerhans when he doubled with two strikes. Crap-hitting Wilson Betemit puts one in the Braves bullpen, just over the reach of Guillen. Tie ballgame. Franco PHs for Smoltz, singles. Orr runs for Franco and promptly steals second. Carrasco had Marcus Giles on the ropes, but he battled back to single in Orr from second. Bobby Cox made a great call sending Orr to second, enabling him to score on Giles' hit.

Just like that, the Nats' bullpen - one of the teams' saving graces this year - blew it. In fairness, the best arms in the pen were waaayy overworked the past few games. Tonight, it caught up to us.

Whaddya gonna do? Shake it off and send Loaiza out tomorrow to seal the series victory.

Crap

It's the pen's turn to blow it.

Wow

Whoa, Frankie outmanaged Cox, who stupidly sac bunted with 7th hitter. Frank walks 8th hitter to get to pitcher, making him look smart!

A three run second!

The Nats' bench is PUMPED after those 3 runs. NJ is still a stud.

First pitch

Testing!

Going to try mobile blogging from RFK tonight. Here's my stuff in my office before the game.

Following the Crowd

With the inaugural Señor Nasty award going to Nick Johnson, I have fallen into conformity with other Nats Blogs. I now have an award to hand out. But this will not be a Majority Leader or Majority Whip style award, handed out on a regular schedule. It will be more along the lines of Ryan's Nat of the Day, handed out on a whim, for just about any reason.

If someone or something deserves recognition, he'll be enshrined as Señor Nasty. There'll be no rhyme or reason. My blog. My rules.