Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Last night's game was about as entertaining a game as we've had all year. For the first time in seemingly a month, the Nationals churned past the four mark in runs scored. And, with the way they usually pitch, that's enough.

Last night's starters Mike Hampton and John Patterson were excellent, combining to allow just one run. Unfortunately, they also combined for only nine innings pitched.

It looked like Patterson, despite some struggles in the first inning, was finally getting his curveball over for strikes. His last few starts, he hasn't been close with it, allowing batters to sit on the fastball. When both are working, as they were last night, he's in control. I don't know if he was on a pitch count, or if it was just precautionary, but he only went five innings, and was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the inning.

Offensively, they were reading the same offensive script, again. For three straight innings, starting in the second, they had the lead-off runner on. And for three straight innings, they left the runners on. They get their chances, but never seem to capitalize. That was, until the 6th. Then, they scored two runs, the second on a Marlon Byrd bases-loaded double play -- the ultimate "Oh yeah! Oh crap!" moment. In the 7th, the Braves bullpen dispensed reliever after reliever, leading to three more Nats runs.

The offensive heroes were Nick Johnson and Jose Guillen. Each had two hits. Guillen scored two and drove in one. NJ scored one and drove in two. It was the second straight game that Guillen had an RBI hit -- hopefully a sign that he's coming out of his RISP slump. But, NJ gets the Majority Whip tonight. His two-run double off Foster, a left-hander brought in especially to face him, was the decisive hit in the game.

Other Nats Notes:

-- Brad Wilkerson was intentionally walked in the 8th. That's the third time (?) he's been IBB'd, which is probably the league lead for lead-off batters, and a testament to some shoddy lineup construction.
-- Ryan Church returned from his calf injury and appeared in an honest-to-God double-switch! He pinch-hit for the pitcher and then replaced Byrd in the lineup when Marlon made the last out of the inning. Way to go, Frank!
-- Frank continues to hit and run, and it continues to kill us. Our atrocious SB% is primarily a function of busted-up HNRs. When our runners aren't being thrown out, the batters are swinging and weakly making outs. I wonder if Frank remembers that Earl Weaver thought that the HNR was the worst play in baseball?
-- Chad Cordero made things interesting in the ninth. He certainly can't keep an ERA that low with the number of baserunners he allows. If there's such a thing as clutch pitching, he's got it. (That he's the one creating the need for those clutch pitches is something else entirely!)
-- Tony Blanco does, in fact, exist.
-- Gary Bennett passed another ball. I imagine he's near the league lead, which is pretty impressive for a backup. (That's like the year the Orioles had a reliever (be damned if I can remember the name) lead the league in triples allowed, but with an outfield with Brady Anderson and Albert Belle, it was much more excusable)
-- Luis Ayala came out of the pen in the 7th inning, and pitched great. Is this the beginning of a shifting of the roles with Gary Majewski being the primary setup reliever? Or is it just how things worked out?

Regardless, one thing I don't give Frank enough credit for is the use of his top relievers. Not only is he getting good performance out of them, he seems to understand the idea of high-leverage situations and when to use his best, with some noteable exceptions, which I'll get to.
-- The crowd was as loud as I've heard one since opening weekend. I don't know if the Braves are morphing into our de facto rivals, or if the crowd got caught up into the excitement of the game, but they were definitely involved, especially late in the game.

WTF Frank Senior Moment:

CJ Nitkowksi? Are you kidding me? When Bowden signed him, I said that my greatest fear was that Frank wouldn't know how to use him. Frank whined all spring to have a lefty specialist in his bullpen. When Bowden gave him Joe Horgan, at the expense of Gary Majewski, Frank proceeded to use him as a generic middle reliever. Well, Bowden gave Frank a brand new toy, and he's playing with the box instead.

In a one-run game, Frank brought the spectacularly ineffective Nitkowski in to face the top of the Braves order: switch-hitter, right-hander, left-hander who can't hit anyone, switch-hitter. Yeah, great move, Frank.

Under Siege inexplicably got the first two batters out, thanks to Furcal's bunt attempt. He then walked the non-hitting Johnson on four-pitches before giving up a liner to Chipper, which scored the run. .2 innings and 2 runs charged. New Orleans is beckoning, CJ. Jesus may love you, but I don't.

Guzman Stinks Update:

Four ABs and six outs. It doesn't get more efficient than that.

And, if someone from the club is reading, be sure to let him know those weren't loud Guuuuuuz's coming from the stands. Those were boos.


  • The passed ball was apparently changed to a wild pitch, at least in the box score I saw this morning. The scoreboard at RFK called it a "Pass Ball."

    As for the crowd getting fired up in the bottom o' the ninth--it had a lot to do with the Braves fans in attendance starting up the dumb-ass Tomahawk Chop. The home fans let it rip as much to drown that out as anything.

    By Blogger Carl, at 6/01/2005 1:30 PM  

  • 6 outs in 12 pitches. That's 2 pitches an out. He's a pitcher's best friend.

    Bobby Cox had the WTF moment of the night. Not walking Bennett with a man on third in the 6th costs the Braves a run. It's not like Guzman could knock a long enough hit to score Gary from first. And chances were better than 8 in 10 he gets an out. One day soon a manager will have the smarts to consistently walk our #7 hitter to get to Cristian.

    By Blogger El Gran Color Naranja, at 6/01/2005 2:39 PM  

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