Monday, May 18, 2009

It's gotta be a record of some sort...

The Nationals managed to lose four games in 48 hours. The Phillies, who after losing 6 of 8 prior to coming to Washington, got a morale boost by sweeping a four game series IN Washington. Woo Hoo!

Saturday, May 16, 2009


The Nats managed to tie the game in the 8th, get the winning run on third with no outs in the 9th, fail to close the deal, and give up 4 runs in the 12th for yet another loss.

The Nationals Mystery

This team simply boggles the mind. The Nats are in the top four in the National League in all offensive categories: home runs, batting average, on base percentage and runs per game (at an outstanding 6.5 runs a game), yet they can't seem to win on a regular basis.

The starting rotation has problems, Daniel Cabrera (why he hasn't been sent to the minors is beyond me) and John Lannan have struggled in particular. However, rookies Shairon Martis and Jordan Zimmerman, as well as Scot Olsen have been putting up quality starts and keeping the Nats in the game in to the sixth and seventh innings.

Then there is the bullpen. It's a disaster. Take today's game. It's the seventh inning, there are no outs, runners on first and third, and the Nats have been through four pitchers already because not a one of the relievers can throw a Goddamned strike. When they do throw a strike, it's a pitch right over the plate that quickly ends up in the outfield.

**Case in point: The Nats just finished a painful 7th inning in which they used five, count 'em FIVE, relief pitchers and gave up three runs to take a 6-4 lead**

The Nats have two first round picks in the up coming draft (thanks to last season's 102 losses). They're bound to take Stephen Strasbourg, a young kid who's been pitching lights out ball in the minors. Hopefully, they'll be able to find someone, ANYONE, to help this staff. There is also the possibility of getting some trades done as the Nats have an abundance of quality outfielders.

Anyway, at least with the way the Nats are hitting, they're never out of a game and the Phillies' bullpen has about as many problems as the Nats. Here's hoping.

Gonna be a good day.

This is one of those perfect Saturdays. I had a good night's sleep for a change, it's cold and rainy outside, and the Nats are winning (at least for the moment). The weather, of course, offers the perfect excuse to be a complete vegetable, so I'll take full advantage by watching some ball, reading the paper and puttering around the house. I downloaded a couple of movies last night, so I have something to watch if I get bored.

I didn't go out last night, which is the biggest reason I feel so good today. I was supposed to meet my buddy Ian for dinner but fell asleep and just didn't feel like going out when I woke up. I might go out later, but that decision is a long way off given that it's only 9:45 in the morning.

(Nats update: We had a 4-1 lead going in to the sixth, but the starter John Lannan just hit two batters and gave up an RBI single, and has been pulled. It's 4-2, the bullpen is in play, and the adventure begins...make that 4-3...sigh)

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Could this be a turning point?

So far this season, watching the Washington Nationals play baseball has been an adventure. Whether it's through horrible pitching or lousy defense the Nats have usually found a way to shoot themselves in the foot; snatching defeat from the mouth of victory in dumb-founding ways. The positive spin on this is that at least the games are never dull! Well maybe, just maybe, yesterday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals might prove to be the catalyst for something good to happen.

The game's star by far was a little known rookie pitcher, Shairon Martis, who, in only his ninth start as a major leaguer, shut down the high-powered (albiet Albert Pujol-less) Cardinal line-up, giving up one run on six hits over nine innings. Martis also became, amazingly enough, the first pitcher since the Nats moved to Washington five years ago, to pitch a complete game. To back Martis up, the Nats played error free, often inspired defense; robbing the Cards of base hits with spectacular play. Christian Guzman and Adam Dunn both broke out of distressing slumps at the plate (a combined 0-17 prior to this game) with Dunn crushing a two out fastball into the second-tier seats for three of the Nats five runs.

I'm not surprised that Manny Acta left Martis in the game. Martis had thrown only 85 pitches by the end of the seventh, and given the spectacular bullpen collapses over the past ten games or so, why in God's name would you take the chance of another late inning disaster. The kid was in command, let him pitch!

Hopefully, Martis' performance will inspire the other starters (who, with the exception of Cabrera, actually haven't been too bad) to really bring their A game, last into the later innings, and reduce the chances of the bullpen blowing things up.

In other Nats news, Ryan Zimmerman continues to impress with his stellar defense at third base as well as a league leading 21 game hitting streak, and making it look easy to boot. At age 24, and signed to a new contract, Zimm's going to be a great asset to the team for many years to come.

All I ask for is baby steps. Let's get the first back-to-back wins of the season tomorrow and build from there!