Friday, August 05, 2005

The Bizarro Nats

Consider:
--Cristian Guzman had two hits.
--Cristian Guzman had two RBI.
--Cristian Guzman scored a run.
--The Nationals crossed the magical five-run barrier.
--The Nationals scored four runs in an inning.
--They finally hit their first Grand Slam (Thanks Brad!)
--John Patterson didn't get a no-decision.

What did that team do with our lovably inept Nats?

It's hard to know what to get excited about from this game!

Is it the re-awakening of Cristian Guzman who had two separate RBI, and is finally driving the ball, instead of just sliding his hands through the zone?

Is it the no-doubt bomb that was Brad Wilkerson's Grand Slam? Hopefully Jose Guillen, who sat out the game, was watching that ball sail easily out to deeeep right field.

Could that be the psychological lift they needed? They CAN score runs, and they CAN do it in the park.

What was weird about that homer was that it seemed inevitible. Bluegrass was ahead in the count 2-1 when he swung through a high fastball. I was SURE that that was his pitch. I was just a few off: he crushed the 3-2 pitch.

It's almost a shame that the sweet release of the Grand Slam could overshadow what was a dominant pitching performance by the Majority Whip winner, John Patterson.

He needed only 116 pitches to strike out 13 batters in a complete game shutout, and lowering his ERA to just 2.42. He allowed just four hits, although it would've been three if Preston Wilson didn't field like Greg Luzinski. (Maybe we could lure Gary Maddox out of retirement?)

It's the kind of performance that Patterson is capable of anytime. He's got a high, moving fastball, and a slider that darts down sharply.

But, to me, the way to tell whether he's on or not is through his curveball. If he's getting it over the plate, it's nasty.

It doesn't have the big looping motion of a Bary Zito curve. It's much tighter and compact, probably breaking six inches or so. Unless he leaves it up in the zone, it's practically unhittable.

Early in the game, Jose Valentin repeatedly fouled it off. He could just barely get a piece of it, but not enough to do anything with it. After peppering them inside and outside, he got him with that hard fastball, eating him alive.

He's under the team's control for the next few years. Hopefully last night, which really wasn't all that different from how he pitched most of July, will be the first of many performances over the next few years.