Sunday, June 12, 2005

Chim Chiminy Chim Chiminy Chim Chim Charee

A Sweep IS as lucky as lucky can be!

After back-to-back-to-back sweeps, the Nationals finished with a 12-1 homestand. It's quite literally difficult to do much better than that.

And, as per our usual, the finale featured a one-run game.

Over the weekend, no single batter stood out. It truly was a team performance.

Pitching-wise, Chad Cordero had an excellent weekend, converting two saves without resorting to his usual stomach-tightening ways. 1,2,3 this afternoon. 1,2,3 last night. It's hard to get better than that.

But, to me, the unsung hero of yesterday and today was El Buitro, Luis Ayala. He went 2.1 tension-filled innings, allowing just one hit. Each night he came in after Gary Majewski (who looks like he might be tired), started taking on water. And each night, he bailed the team out. Saturday, it earned him a win. Sunday, it earned him a hold (who cares?). But, both nights together earned him some long-deserved Majority Whips.

  • I don't know if it was just the Mariners pitching clouding my perceptions, but the team just seemed more patient this weekend. They drew a fair number of walks, but even when they weren't walking, they were working the count, and swinging at pitches they could drive, instead of their typical 'see a strike, hit a strike' approach.

  • Tony Armas gutted through five innings, throwing 107 pitches in the process. Even when he was healthy, he was never the kind of pitcher who worked deep into games.

    From watching him closely over his last two starts, he's just missing a little something on his pitches, which seems strange to say about someone who did strike out six batters.

    But, when you watch his games, look at the number of foul balls they hit against him -- such as Jeremy Reed's 11-pitch AB in the first inning.

    That worries me a little bit for his long-term success, because if he loses a little off his slider (which is what he got most of his strikeouts on), he'll be a very hittable pitcher.

  • John Patterson had another effective outing Saturday, going seven innings, and yielding just one run -- that coming off a bad hop grounder that just ate Nick Johnson alive.

    In the process, he's lowered his ERA to 2.54. He, Livan and Loaiza, if they keep pitching to form, are one of the two or three best front-ends to a pitching staff.

  • Cristian Guzman had a terrific game Saturday, getting two hits, including a ball he absolutely destroyed that bounced over the wall for a double.

    What amazed me about his performance that night wasn't his batting, but his eye.

    In four at bats, he saw 16 pitches (not an especially high total, but it's progress for him). Of those, he swung at only 4: 2 line-drive hits, a decently hit grounder, and a strikeout.

    No one'll confuse him for Rickey Henderson, but it's progress. He's still taking baby steps. We can't expect the training wheels to come off yet.

  • Distinguished Senators has an interesting look at the Tomo Ohka trade -- and the implications of the off-the-field meaning of the deal. It's worth the read, and makes some excellent points.


    • I think Jamey Carroll deserves a recall initiative for today's game: an RBI single, plus a really nifty leaping catch on a sharp liner.

      Ayala's damned useful, but two majority dealies? Wow.

      By Blogger Basil, at 6/12/2005 11:05 PM  

    • I recall on Saturday looking up during a Guzman at bat and seeing the count at 3-2. With the scoreboard hijinks and Guzman's impatience, the cognitive dissonance was high -- I did not know what the reality was.

      Oh, Basil, I have to disagree with you on Carroll (not having seen the game yet, of course, but why should that stop me?:)) You MUST give it to one of the pitchers (except Majewski). They kept us in this one.

      By Blogger DM, at 6/12/2005 11:48 PM  

    • The Carroll play, if my sun-riddled brain recalls right, wasn't anything special. It was just a liner over his head, that if he weren't a wee li'l tyke, someone else would've caught without jumping.

      It's like when you go to Grandma's house and you finally realize that you can reach the cookie jar without pulling a chair over to the counter.

      Jamey hasn't reached that level yet.

      As far on Ayala, I forgot to mention that Saturday's game featured him ripping through the heart of SEA's order -- even though said heart looks much more impressive on paper, than it does in reality.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/13/2005 8:38 AM  

    • It looked impressive from where we were sitting. I'm factoring in the fact that he's a wee one, yes. Seattle's guy, Morse, would have had to bend over to get it.

      By Blogger Basil, at 6/13/2005 9:11 AM  

    • Road trip goal? I'd say 5-4 is doable, no? Or are we spoiled with success and going for 6-3?

      By Blogger D, at 6/13/2005 12:58 PM  

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