Thursday, September 15, 2005

Amazin'

I don't know what to believe anymore. In a season that's given us so much, the Nationals outdid themselves again this afternoon.

It took 21 players, ten innings, and a clutch hit by Vinny Castilla, who won't let us bury his heart, despite his wounded knee. (Yeah, I kinda forced that one there.)

I tried the best I could to follow the game live -- which is hard when the IT guy at work could be confused for Goebbels. Luckily, I caught the 9th inning on mlb.tv. But if you were on 395 during the 10th inning, and you saw a stupid-looking kid with a dung-eating grin on his face, that was probably me.

It was a game with many heroes.

Preston Wilson had four hits, including a clutch single, which led to the winning run, but he was also inexplicably thrown out trying to stretch that single, in a play that almost cost the Nats the game.

Cristian Guzman had two more hits, and he's now hitting .204. More importantly, one of those shots was a loooong solo homer to right. He's now batting .364 against the Mets (in 44 ABs), and he's slugging .659. (Albert Pujols is 'only' slugging .626)

Trailing by one in the 9th inning, Ryan Zimmerman dusted himself off the bench and had a clutch hit, moving to second on an error by the ancient Gerald Williams. He didn't stay there long, advancing to third on a groundout, then scoring when Brad Wilkerson ripped a hard grounder to the drawn-in second baseman.

But the Majority Whip goes to an unlikely hero of the game: Gary Majewski. Chad Cordero sat out the game, despite saying he was available. Nevertheless, Majewski got the call. Majewski had pitched in the three previous games. (As well as in 6 of the previous 8.)

He didn't face murderer's row, but he got through the inning easily, despite some all-world bad defense from (who else?) Cristian Guzman.

He stepped up when his team needed it. That's the hallmark of a leader.

___

Wednesday's game wasn't especially exciting, but it was efficient. Esteban Loaiza, again pitching on short rest, gave the team 7 solid innings. Preston Wilson and Vinny Castilla went back-to-back, and Nick Johnson cracked two doubles. Even Gary P.B. Bennett had two hits. (Did you know that Gary Bennett has fans? Click here for the tale)

But Brad Wilkerson gets the Majority Whip. He had just one hit, but the two walks and the two runs were pretty valuable. He was the reason Nick Johnson had the two RBI.

___

Tuesday was pretty inexplicable. The Nationals started Hector Carrasco (he of the 1 career start(s)). Somehow, he pitched well, going four innings, while giving up just two runs.

But the Majority Whip goes the most unlikely source: Cristian Guzman. The Boy Blunder ripped two doubles, and managed to score a run (something he's only done 33 times this season.)

The emergence of Carrasco as a potentially viable emergency starter was important, but so is the effective pitching by Jon Rauch. Rauch, who's coming back from a torn labrum is a starting pitcher. Although his shoulder might not allow him to go 7 this season, he and Carrasco could definitely combine for 6 or 7 innings pitched, without too much damage to the team's ERA.

If the team really is going to contend, they're going to need to keep sprinkling that pixy dust over those bullpen arms.

__

Three games. Three wins. And a strange 2.5 in the games back column. Ya Gotta Believe!

The only bad thing? Those winning bastards are going to make me stay up late this weekend. These games actually mean something!

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