Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Take That, Pythagoras!

One of the great debates (admittedly using a low standard for the word great) during the first half of the season was about our negative run differential, and how we were greatly outplaying our expected record. Critics (or hatas as the kids say nowadays) pointed to our record in one-run games and openly laughed when they weren't trying to blow down the house of cards that was our record.

They got plenty of laughs during July, as the team managed to drop 13 straight one-run games, and dropped in the standings like a flyball in front of Preston Wilson.

But the Nationals have recently discovered how to not lose one-run games: blow your opponent out.

The Nats have been scoring early and often, and are literally on pace to hit more home runs during this road trip than they had during July. Yeah, seriously.

At the end of July, I noted that, as a team, they hit exactly like Jack Wilson, the Pirates slap-hitting shortstop. Well, Jack took out his whuppin' stick and smacked the Astros around the other night. Maybe we're symbiotically linked to Wilson. The better he does, the better we do? Just in case, I'm becoming a Jack Wilson fan. Go Jack!

The one thing all these multiple-run victories have done is greatly narrow that run deficit. We're now just six runs in the hole, and probably only about 15 runs below the total for our projected record. We're no longer the giant Pythagorean outlier that we once were.

Baseball Prospectus has had our odds of making the postseason more than double during this recent stretch. Scoring runs is a good thing!


If the offense continues chipping out 5 runs a game (which is probably as realistic as their 2.5/game pace during July), then the wins will continue to mount.

____

As far as last night's game, it was a little of Livan, a little of Preston, and a whole lot of power.

Livan started out shaky, giving up two runs in the first, but he settled down, giving a typical Livan performance. Ho-hum. Eight innings, two runs, and only 113 pitches.

On a regular night, that's the stuff of a Whip.

But last night wasn't a regular night. The Nationals pounded out four homers, including two off the bat of the Whip winner, Preston Wilson, who finished with four RBI.

  • Jose Guillen got the start in left. He's complaining of elbow tendinitis now, and it's presumed that he wouldn't have to throw as much in left.

  • Cristian Guzman tried his damndest to lose the game. His 0-4 wasn't enough to sabotage the offense this time, so he booted an Inning-Endy would-be Game-ender. That opened up the floodgates, but Chad Cordero is pretty good at getting his thumb in the dike before too much damage is done.

    Why does he continue to play?

  • With the win, the Nationals are now a half game ahead of the Phillies for second place in the division. They're one game behind the Astros for the Wild Card.

    By the end of this road trip, we'll have about ten more games at home than on the road through the rest of the season.

    That's good!

    What's bad is that we're playing the Cards, Braves, Marlins, etc. (Even the Reds, who look to be the easiest matchup left, are Reds-hot (get it??) lately)

    But that's for later. Beat the Phils now, and worry about the rest later.

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