Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Off The Schneid

Adieu, Mister Losing Streak! Au Revoir Senor Batting Slump! It wasn't pretty, and much of it was the same. But the results were muy bonito!

Once the Nationals were down three, I really didn't expect them to come back. That they did, made it all the more pleasing. (And, I probably should apologize to my downstairs neighbors for cheering so loudly!)

Even in the ninth, when Ryan Church hit into the forceout at the plate, I didn't think they had a chance, because Slappy McGroundball was coming to the plate. He didn't come through in a traditional sense, but the fact that he didn't ground out weakly and end the game is a huge moral victory!

But, then stepped up today's Majority Whip, Brian Schneider. After connecting, he struck the pose of a conquering hero:

Actually, it kinda looks like he's praying that Andruw Jones doesn't get to that one!

There's nothing beautiful than a hard hit ball into the gap. Nothing. And then the rains came. Hopefully, it washed the stink of this offense away.

Other thoughts:
--SteveLo looked decent tonight. He started to lose it a bit in the sixth. He didn't quite have the command he had had earlier in the game, but he muddled through it. I was surprised when Big Frank left him in in the 7th. I was definitely nervous, but he got through it. Frank had TeeJay Tucker warming in case they started another rally. That's probably the first case of him being proactive this year!

--Jose Guillen continues to wreck the ball as if it was a gourd in the shape of Mike Scioscia's head. Guillen's the kind of player who doesn't need to show a lot of patience to be succesful. He has great skill at hitting the ball hard, no matter where it is. If you've seen Gary Sheffield swing, you'll know what I'm talking about. Jose's not quite to that level, and he definitely doesn't have the eye that Sheffield does, but it's the same type of consistent contact that's similar. (There are some interesting temperment parallels too!)

--Nick Johnson continues to embody what we should all strive to have our children be -- minus the lumberjack beard, that is. In the comments on Distinguished Senators' game thread (trust me, it's not worth the time it'd take to read!), Ryan remarked that his double is exactly what makes him a good hitter. He waited, waited, waited for just the right pitch that he could drive. Patience isn't always about taking a walk. It's about waiting for that inside and low pitch you can turn on and drive into the gap. And it's about not trying to pull that low and away pitch, resulting in a groundout. NJ understands. Some of the others need to learn as well.

--Brad Wilkerson's average is 'down' to .394. I'm not harping on the guy who carried the team, but that's an example of why it's not a good idea to get worked up over a mini-torrid streak like that. No one can keep that pace up. He's returned to earth and his rate stats have plummeted. He'll probably be back to human, non-Bondsian levels by the weekend.

--How awesome is it that this team is 4-4 now? On the bus trip to Philly, I joked that the team would be coming back 2-7 from the trip. In my heart, I probably would've guessed 3-6. Even if we lose tomorrow, that's about as well as we could hope to do. We've just had a stretch against the three toughest teams in our division all on the road and we held our own! We didn't blow anyone out, but other than the matchup with Scuffy Moehler, we've faced a pretty damn imposing set of pitchers. The offense stinks. The pitching's acceptable. And somehow we've scratched out some wins.

If this offense ever learns to take some walks and to show some patience, we could have the kind of season that reaches our most optmistic dreams!

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