Monday, July 25, 2005

The Lost Weekend

What a rough weekend.

Friday night was the first (second? third?) rock bottom. It seemed like it'd be the last straw, at least. The Nationals got pasted by the Astros something like 72-1. (I don't remember -- I sorta blacked out after it was 10-0)

Ryan Drese needed to keep us in the game. He didn't. And he wins a Lame Duck. Sunny Kim gave a command Horganesque performance in relief, but the blood had already been let.

Saturday, things looked better on the surface. Majority Whip winner Tony Armas pitched seven innings of one-hit ball, and the Nationals squeezed out just enough runs.

Things may have appeared great on the surface, but buried deep inside, the run-scoring sickness remained. The offense scored only because Houston's rookie centerfielder butchered a flyball.

In yesterday's game, the team reverted to form. 14 innings after the game started, the Nationals had four hits in 45 at bats -- a blistering .089 batting average -- and another loss.

It's not like the team didn't have chances. In the eighth inning, the Nationals had runners at the corners with nobody out. They didn't score. What's amazing about it, is that they eschewed their favorite form of rally killer, the double play grounder.

Frank Robinson, in his typically aggressive style, burned through players and relievers as if the game would be called a tie All-Star Game style.

Cordero, Ayala, Majewski and Stanton each got in the game, and each threw fewer than 15 pitches. By the time the game rolled around to the 13th inning, he was left with only Hector Carrasco and the charbroiled Sunny Kim, fresh off his toasting Friday night.

In the 14th, with Carrasco well over 50 pitches, he gave up a 3-2 bomb to someone called Eric Bruntlett. As soon as it left the bat, I stood up off the couch, locked my hands behind my head, and made lap of frustration around my apartment.

I can't be upset with Carrasco. He had thrown a bazillion pitches. But I can be angry with the offense.

The Astros trotted out Wandy Rodriguez (No, that literally isn't his original baseball name), who had an ERA hovering near 7. And they couldn't scratch out a meaningful run.

There were many candidates for Majority Whip, but one player whose struggles have slipped 'neath the radar is Jose Vidro. He had a torrid stretch when he first came back, but since then, he has been in a Guzmanian slump. He went 0-6 yesterday to drop his average all the way down to .259.

The team is back on its no-offense bender, and the illusion of Saturday's game was just that.

Nick Johnson returns tomorrow, which, if he's healthy, has to improve the offense.

With three games against Atlanta, followed by three in Florida, this six-game stretch is a pretty big litmus test to see if we're capable of staying in the race.

It truly felt like a lost weekend, but there's stil time for the team to get back to its feet.

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