Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Disco Duck

Just catching up on what I missed while taking pictures of Lake Superior....

5/25 8-5 over Houston-- The Matt LeCroy Game.
I couldn't avoid the Frank Robinson tearfest after this game. It certainly got a decent amount of coverage thanks to our friends at ESPN. It's hard not to get sentimental over a grizlled ol' Hall of Famer breaking down, but Nats Blog has an interesting post about it. DM argues that Frank shouldn't be upset about it because he's the one who put LeCroy in a position to fail in the first place. My snyopsis doesn't really do the post justice, but read the freakin' thing anyway, even if you think you'll disagree.

Armas continued to show his trend of shaky pitching after having been asked to go over 100 pitches in his previous outing. Take a look at the game log, and keep that in mind when he toes the rubber against Milwaukee this week.

The Whip goes to Jose Vidro who showed the power he'd lost for a month or so while he turned into a slow Ichiro. His homer and four RBIs led the way.

5/26, 10-4 over LA -- 16 hits!
The Nats feasted on Dodgers pitching, cranking out 16 hits, including 7 extra-base hits. Ryan Zimmerman had two doubles and three RBI, but Alfonso Soriano wins the Whip thanks to his two doubles, his two-run homer and his three runs scored. For good measure, he even stole a base.

5/27, 3-1 loss to LA -- @#$# Double Steal
Shawn Hill made his season debut, pitching a surprisingly strong 7-inning, one-run performance in a game the Dodgers would steal with single runs in the 8th and 9th.

The key stretch, it seems was the bottom of the 7th. With runners on first and second, Damian Jackson was asked (correctly) to bunt. He popped up the first pitch to the catcher. Jackson later blamed his mistake on fatigue after having to play six whole games in a row. Awww. (Now that Guillen's out, I may have a new candidate for least favorite Nat!)

Then, his first play not having worked, Frank decided to REALLY put the managing hat on, calling for a double steal. Despite Ryan Zimmerman not being an especially fast or excellent baserunner. And despite the batter, Brian Schneider, being a left-handed batter, meaning the catcher would have a clear throw to third. The last point didn't matter, as Zimmerman was picked off second, when Lowe sniffed out the steal. Yay for overmanaging.

Jackson wins the Lame Duck for his inability to get the bunt down, and the ofer he took. To add to the fun, he struck out to end the game. Jackson has made some pretty spectacular errors this season; he'd be a good player to ship out of town. Some contender'll appreciate his versatility.

5/28, 10-4 over LA -- Ramon Ortiz!?
Ramon Ortiz had another decent outing, winning his third game of the year, but it was the offense that carried the day. Nick Johnson had three hits and scored three runs, but it was Whip-winner Ryan Zimmerman's three-run bomb was what blew the game open. NJ's homers were just gravy.

5/29, 11-2 loss to Philly -- Thanks for playing, Joey
The offense did asbolutely nothing against a mediocre Philly pen -- who got extended duty thanks to Jon Lieber's third-inning injury. Mike O'Connor pitched ok, finally getting through an outing without walking a batter (something that could bite his butt at some point this season). But even if he had pitched better, the liner off him and the shoddy bullpen work would've negated it. Gary Majewski gave up three, as did Saul Rivera, but the Duck goes to Joey Eischen, in what'll be his final appearance as a Nat. Two lefty batters faced, two walks. Both runs would score, giving our Pal Joey an infinite ERA in his final appearance. A fitting end.

5/30, 4-2 loss to Philly -- Not a tough loss.
Sure, we'd like to win some, but losing to Brett Myers isn't the worst thing in the world, even when your 'ace' is pitching. It's when you win those games that you felt like you've gotten away with something. Armas pitched competently, but not especially good. It's just that the offense couldn't really do much of anything. Only Marlon Byrd's 8th-inning homer put the Nats on the board. The Duck's a hard call, but why not Soriano? The guy who needs to make things happen didn't do anything, except strike out three times. Soriano's made great strides at laying off breaking stuff he can't touch, but against a quality pitcher like Myers, whose slider is quite good, Soriano's still going to struggle.

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All in all, that's a pretty good stretch. They finished 7-3 on the long homestand, before dropping the two against Philly, and were 3-3 while I was gone. That's more like it. They're not as bad as they were for that long losing stretch. They're much closer to that 81-81 record, especially as Livan continues to improve. Think we can get back to .500 this season? That'd be a pretty good goal, I think.

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