Monday, May 30, 2005

The Road Behind Us And Ahead

I had a nice weekend -- much better than that Nats did at least.

St. Louis, as expected, demonstrated what a winning team looks like.

In game 1, which we lost 6-3, Ryan Church gets the Lame Duck for his 0-4 performance. He struck out three times and left three men on base. That's not going to cut it, especially with the struggles this team has been going through.

Tony Armas had another ugly outing, lasting just 5 innings, and giving up 5 runs. Apparently he's taken the Claudio Vargas emeritus Pitching Slot. He's simply going to have to pitch better.

CJ Nitkoswski and Sunny Kim made their season debuts. One was effective. The other not. Kim looked solid, and made a case that he deserves the fifth starter slot. Nitkowski did what CJ has done his entire career -- fall behind batters, then get ripped when he comes in the zone. He didn't pitch well the weekend, and the less we see of him the better.

Game two was a typical Nationals game -- a decent outing by the starter, and completely impotent bats.

The Nats had one decent rally chance. In the 6th inning, the first three batters reached with three singles, which probably went a combined 75 feet. Nick Johnson walked, to draw the team within a run. With only one out, the pitcher on the ropes having walked the previous batter, Vinny Castilla swung at the first pitch into a gut-busting double play -- the definition of a Lame Duck Winner.

Game three had the same script as the second game. Yet, the Nationals hit the magical three-run barrier and eeked one out 3-2.

Livan was excellent, in winning his 8th game of the year, but Brad Wilkerson was the Majority Whip, ripping three doubles, scoring a run, and driving in two. At a time when the Nats offense needs someone to step up, he did. (At least for one game.)

We finished out the roadtrip on an upnote, but still had disappointing results overall (2-6). It should definitely make us appreciate how amazing the West Coast swing was at the beginning of the month.

Now, we're off on a long 13-game homestand. It starts out tough, but ends easier with Oakland and Seattle. 8-5 is ambitious, but achievable, especially because this offense just can't continue to be this putrid.

Today's game was a good first start, but it followed the same script -- just enough offense to win, and a little luck with an umpire's call (for once!).

Tomo Ohka pitched great, for once. He still walked too many people, but when you allow just three hits in seven innings, you can live with it. Ohka gets back into good graces with a Whip-winning performance.

Offensively, it was the Nick Johnson and Marlon Byrd. They each hit two doubles and combined to score and drive in two runs.

Ryan Church, for better or worse, seems to have found a permanent seat on the bench. (Church has had calf problems keeping him out of the game, but Frank didn't mind benching him when he's hitting well, so why put him back in when he had a bad game, right? right? Ugh.)

I'll be there tomorrow night. They owe me a few wins!