Thursday, April 06, 2006

Nats To Boz: Go To Hell

Small ball might make a columnist's heart go pitter-pat, but it wasn't the story of how the Nats beat the Mets yesterday. Doing what they rarely did last year, they got back into the game with two huge home runs, and won it with one in extras.

The first, a three-run blast (We can hit those?) off the bat of Nick Johnson brought the Nats to within one run after having been no-hit through the first 5.1 by a freakin' rookie pitcher.

But the second? Oh, the second! Ryan Zimmerman's first major league home run was a thing of beauty. Facing Mr. Sandman, Billy Wagner, Dutch got ahead 3-0 before eventually unloading on a high fastball (the hardest to hit!) on the inner half of the plate. It was a thing of beauty! Is there anything like watching a batter turn on a pitch? When he connected, there was no doubt, and the game was tied! Even more, Dutch wins his first Majority Whip -- his two walks and a few nifty defensive plays helped cement it.

  • The Mets played the kind of tenth inning the Nats usually play. And somehow, the Nats scored five runs. Federal Baseball notes that last year, the Nats went SIXTEEN STRAIGHT games without scoring five runs. Man, I've blacked that out of my mind!

    The big blow, of course, was Jose Guillen's two-run homer to left-center. That was encouraging, because if he can start hitting homers to that part of the field at RFK, he'll have a chance to get them out. Royce "Hack" Clayton added to the lead with a 2-RBI single past a drawn-in infield. Damian Jackson's double to left was the capper, creating garbage time for the Nats bullpen in the bottom of the inning -- and conveniently, Felix Rodriguez complied by pitching like garbage.

  • The two big stories from the game, though, were Alfonso Soriano and John Patterson.

    Soriano, who had zippo to do with the game, other than getting beaned in the head, was yanked by Frank Robinson for failing to run out a popup to the catcher, which ended up in fair territory. Soriano is notorious for not running things out, and this will be something to watch througout the season. I do wonder what Frank's reaction is going to be when Soriano ends up on first after admiring a would-be homer that doesn't agree with RFK's deep fences.

    Patterson reported having forearm stiffness -- usually a sign of fatigue. They plan to keep him in the rotation, but there's a chance he could miss a start because of the injury. Patterson's fastball was junky yesterday, but I don't think anyone connected with the curve. When his curve is working, he usually has enough to get by. Not last night, though.

  • Brandon Watson looked crappy, again. The one time he got on, he drew a walk, and was promptly caught stealing. Watson has speed, but he's not a good base stealer. He gets caught far too often. Stealing bases is good, so long as you make it! Watson doesn't make it nearly often enough.

  • Chad Cordero came in and pitched the bottom of the ninth. Unconventional strategy on the road to be sure. But it's always hard to argue with the logic of putting your best pitcher on the mound. Of course, Cordero promptly loaded the bases. But as he always does, he wiggled his fat butt out of it.

  • Pedro pitches today, debuting his new and improved creaky toe. Your random Washington connection o' the day: In the 1937 All Star Game, played at Griffith Stadium, Earl Averill hit a line drive that broke Dizzy Dean's toe. Dean tried coming back too early from the injury, altered his delivery, and blew out his arm, effectively ending his career.

    I won't want to end Pedro's career, but I sure wouldn't mind seeing the trainer running out to the mound in the second inning tonight!

  • Road Trip Record: 1-1
    Road Trip Goal: 3-4

  • Today's Nats Haiku, courtesy of MDT:
    Crushing in Flushing:
    Nats win, on strength of three long
    RFK fly-outs


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