Friday, June 10, 2005

Four-Score and 7 Innings With No

One of the reasons that Frank Robinson’s old boss, Earl Weaver, eschewed the bunt was because of his belief that one big inning would typically result in more runs than the other team would score for the game.

Although I’m sure that that was the case for the 60s and 70s, I’m not so sure that that’s the case today, in general. But, with RFK turning high drives into long outs and suppressing runs to as great a degree as any park in the league, it’s probably as close to a truism for the Nationals as it is for any other team.

Last night was another checkmark in that column.

The Nationals won 4-3 with a four-run third inning. The A’s managed just three -- with some help from some scary fielding at second base. (The culprit? Carlos Baerga.)

Nick Johnson had the big hit. Again. He unloaded the bases with a shot that just went over the head of Mark Kotsay. Kotsay catches that ball 9 times out of 10. But, last night, for some reason, he took the great circle route for the ball, perhaps in search of the northwest passage to Bethesda.

Vinny Castilla followed up with a double to left, and the Nationals had their winning runs.

It was definitely more than enough for yesterday’s Majority Whip ¡Livan!, who gutted through another 130 pitches or so, less than a week after lobbing up 150.

He was in beautiful form last night; his fastball had a ton of movement, especially his two-seamer, which seemed to move 4 inches or so from left to right. Combine a quick, moving fastball with the usual assortment of off-speed junk -- hard curves, lobbed curves, sliders, slurves, Eephuses, you name it -- and the batters didn’t have much of a chance.

He struck out Eric “Not-Endy” Chavez twice. The first time was a called third-strike when he started the tailing fastball inside, and it rode away from Chavez, right across the inside corner. In his next AB, with two strikes Livan threw him an identical pitch. Chavez knew it was coming, and swung this time, missing it.

A lot of times pitchers will be afraid to throw the same pitch in the same situation, but Livan’s not like that. It really must be machismo -- he knows that his best is good enough to get anybody out.

In the 8th, when he started to tire, they tagged him around a little bit. But, as always, when he was in big trouble, he bore down, and got the outs he needed, keeping the A’s at bay.

  • Chad Cordero tried making it interesting in the 9th, giving up hits that brought the go-ahead run to the plate. (Although one of them was a 42-hopper past Baerga) Vinny Castilla had the ball hit to him (ignore the passive voice and pretend we both can remember the batter, ok?) and fired it the short way to Carlos Baerga at second to end the game.

    The problem was he fired high, and Baerga’s 7 inch vertical wasn’t enough to reach the ball. It ticked off his glove, went to short center, and a run scored.

    Rick Short can’t be worse than that, can he? I’d love to see him out there for Baerga. He definitely has to be an upgrade. But, it’s probably all for naught, as Jamey Carroll is apparently healthy enough to play.

  • On come the Mariners -- who gutted the Marlins. What else were you going to expect when a seaman met a fish?

    I wouldn’t expect our winning streak to last through the weekend, but then I wouldn’t have expected a winning streak in the first place!

    Homestand Record:
    9-1
    Homestand Goal:
    8-5

    Yeah, I’ll take it!

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