Monday, April 18, 2005

The Skrewy Sked

Despite the 9-game road gauntlet to start the season, this portion of the Nats’ schedule is relatively easy. 10 of the next 13 games are home, with only a short train ride to the hellhole in Queens interrupting a nice, long homestand. (And counting the AZ games, 13 of 16 were home.)

When the calendar flips to may, things get a bit rougher. Sunday May 1st is an ESPN game, meaning first pitch after 8. The next day, they play in LA. Yep, they’ve got a cross-country flight after the Sunday night game, starting a pretty dangerous 9-game road stretch in LA, SF, and the revenge match-up with the D-Backs. They come home for a 7-game homestand against the Cubs and improved Brewers before heading back on the road for another 9 games, including one of those traditional Toronto/Cincinnati flights. Only 10 of their 28 games are at home that month.

By that May 1st Sunday nighter, we’ll have played 25 games, with all but 3 (against AZ) having come against the tough divisional opponents.

We’ll have a pretty good idea whether we’re legitimate contenders by Memorial Day. At the same rate, a poor performance over the beginning of May doesn’t bury us. West Coast swings are notoriously difficult as players get used to the long travel and the ‘later’ game starts.

An even more immediate sign is this upcoming week: four games against divisional opponents, Florida and Atlanta. We split the 6 games with them on the road last week and a split here would be great as well. I’ll be there tonight and on Thursday, cheering them on loudly. (Anyone seen the pitching match-ups for the Braves series?)

A split keeps us on top of the division for another week, and builds momentum for the trip to NY, which will hopefully be Petey-less.

Actually, I’d love to see the Nats’ Zen matchup against Victor Zambrano.

What happens when a team that swings at everything faces a pitcher who refuses to throw strikes? What happens when a pitcher who typically throws 100 pitches through 5 innings faces a team that lets starters get to the 9th without breaking a sweat? We’ll find out!


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