Friday, June 09, 2006

Walk Like A Man

Halfway through last night's game, I was wracking my brain, trying to think of ways to justify not giving the Majority Whip to Royce Clayton, who had twice driven in the perfectly on-base Alfonso Soriano with two well-placed doubles.

Thankfully, Soriano's homer would make that justification easier.

It was a perfect night for Soriano, in many ways. He sauntered to the plate four times, got on base four times and scored four times. He's the prototypical leadoff hitter, huh?

What impressed me about Soriano last night was that he wasn't overly aggressive. I had seen him come out of his shoes on some swings, taking monster hacks at pitches early in the count before settling back and being patient when behind. Not last night. He saw 16 pitches and swung at just two, fouling one off, homering on the other. Some of that was Brito's lack of command -- I felt for Sal Fasano who had to stretch and dive for just about every pitch he threw -- but some of it was patience that Soriano has traditionally lacked.

Coming into this season, his career high in walks is 38, but a traditional year is right around 30. (33 each of the last two years) He already has 21. Even if some of them are intentional (4, thanks, Royce!), it's a pretty big improvement in his walk rate.

But, when you can do this, who gives a crap about walks?

Needless to say, Soriano wins the Whip. What more can the guy do?

  • Royce Clayton had a pretty good game, driving in Soriano twice. It was an interesting night for him. In the first inning, after Soriano walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch, Clayton was batting with a 2-0 count. Clayton's one of those 'professional hitters' (codeword for "bad, but makes productive outs") He grounded out sharply to the third baseman, preventing Soriano from moving to third.

    And Frank let him have it. As he tried bounding down the top step, Frank pulled him aside, lecturing him with a stern face, gesturing wildly. He even broke out his magical pointy finger. This went on for Vidro's entire at bat, a minute or two in total.

    Clayton responded with hits (past that same third baseman!) each of the next two ABs. I dunno what Frank said, but he needs to yell at Royce more often -- he can't hear my boos from the stands.

  • Mike O'Connor looked sharp, going after the Phillies hitters, throwing lots of strike ones. They were off-balance all night, lunging at the change-up especially. He was done in by some shoddy defense, as usual. When he got the call-up a few weeks back, I spit out a bile-filled rant about how pathetic it was that Bowden put us into a position to have to call this AA-baller up. Who knew? (And despite what he may crow now, if Bowden thought O'Connor was capable of this, he'd have been up earlier)

  • Damian Jackson continues to astound with his lack of defense and general head-up-ass play. In the third inning, Chase Jimmy Rollins hit a sharp flare to center. Jackson ranged over, playing it off a hop, but having it kick off his glove a few feet towards left. Compounding the error, he nonchalanted the throw to second, throwing off his back foot and looping it to second, almost as if he was tossing underhand. Rollins was safe, but it was close. A better throw (or even a clean field) and he's still at first, and probably never would've scored on Utley's ensuing double.

    Every time I watch him, he makes a mental error. Sometimes it goes for an E, like last night. Sometimes not. For someone who's played since the dawn of time, he's not a good fundamental player.

  • So five under now? When we were 14-28, would you have thought that we'd be here so quickly? Just if (and I mean if) we're able to take 2/3 from the Phillies and 3/4 from the Rockies (difficult, but not impossible), we'd be two under. Amazing.

    Let's get to .500 first. Then we'll talk about where to go from there.

    But for the moment, just enjoy it. It's fun to win!

  • 17 Comments:

    • And despite what he may crow now, if Bowden thought O'Connor was capable of this, he'd have been up earlier

      Precisely.

      And let's never forget that O'Connor wouldn't be up except for Patterson's injury. So, to look at the flip side, if Bowden says Patterson's injury has hurt the team, . . . yes, in a manner of speaking it has. But it's also enabled the team's most consistent starter for the balance of the season to be on the roster.

      We said it earlier when Bowden discussed Patterson's absence: It would have never been Patterson AND O'Connor. It's O'Connor IN PLACE OF Patterson, and thus far the trade-off hasn't really hurt us.

      BTW, did the pitch actually hit Soriano? Chuck and Dave2.0 were dubious about it but seemed to believe it did after seeing the replay a couple of times.

      By Blogger Basil, at 6/09/2006 9:56 AM  

    • On the HBP, damned if I know. I was there, so I didn't see any replays.

      No one reacted to the pitch -- not Soriano, not Fasano. Only the ump called it.

      With the way Brito was missing spots, it just seemed like another wild pitch.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/09/2006 9:58 AM  

    • Damian Jackson is a putz. He made a lucky catch last night and as soon as the ball was hit I could see he was going to mis-play it.

      I told my 8 year old to shield his eyes, I didn't want him picking up any bad habits.

      Go Nats.

      By Anonymous Gary, at 6/09/2006 10:06 AM  

    • Ah, yeah... How could I forget the 9th inning!

      Jackson had two nearly identical fly balls hit to him. The first, he stumbled back around, running in a pattern resembling concentric circles, making a diving catch for the second out.

      The next ball was hit right to him in nearly the same spot and he made a routine catch.

      Yet the crowd saluted him as if he were Jim Feckin' Edmonds for that first catch.

      You don't applaud the butcher!

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/09/2006 10:09 AM  

    • On a different subject: New Stadium. Do we have any inside scoop on what the name of the stadium might be?

      A presidents name?

      Anacostia Crack-House?

      Nationals Stadium?

      Foldgers Field?

      By Anonymous Gary, at 6/09/2006 10:11 AM  

    • Damien Jackson must have pictures of Frank sleeping in the dugout. Otherwise, there is no justification for playing him. He can't hit and he can't field any position.

      By Anonymous phil dunn, at 6/09/2006 10:28 AM  

    • Gary: Old Navy Yard.

      It's gotta be.

      By Blogger Basil, at 6/09/2006 10:32 AM  

    • I was listening on the radio last night -- it sounded like Damian Jackson made some kind of spectacular backhanded catch -- what was that all about?

      Winning is fun. According to ESPN.com, the Nats have the best record in the majors over the past 3 weeks.

      By Anonymous Rich from Richmond, at 6/09/2006 10:52 AM  

    • Old Navy Yard, I actually kind of like that. It sounds better than Sony Field. http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/stories/2006/06/05/story3.html

      By Anonymous Rich from Richmond, at 6/09/2006 10:54 AM  

    • The Damian Jackson catch was fantastic. That hit would have dropped for a double for sure, and Jackson looked to be about a step and a half behind it. Then he dives. The ball finds his glove. He holds. We hold our breath. He hits the ground. He holds on....and everybody went nuts.

      It was a good catch at a nervous moment--I was mentally ready to watch my Nats snatch defeat from the jaws of victory yet again--but it was not to be last night. Woooo!

      By Anonymous ouij, at 6/09/2006 11:18 AM  

    • I'm going to have to disagree with you on that one.... it wasn't a good catch.

      Well, it was in that it was eventful, but he misplayed the ball into the diving catch. So it might've been a good catch, but it was a POOR defensive play.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/09/2006 11:22 AM  

    • Marion Shepilov Barry Stadium.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/09/2006 11:24 AM  

    • "good" in the sense that "All's well that ends well." I agree that the ball had been initially misplayed. But I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth: The catch doesn't get made, and the Phillies are right back in it.

      By Anonymous ouij, at 6/09/2006 11:31 AM  

    • I can't argue with that!

      And your description of the reaction/ancicipation of that is perfect.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 6/09/2006 11:32 AM  

    • I thought that 9th inning catch by Jackson was a good/great catch.

      By Blogger Michael Briggs, at 6/09/2006 11:33 AM  

    • BBTN declared Jackson's catch in the 9th last night their co-winner for #1 Web Gem.

      The other co-winner was Clayton Mott making a circuitous diving catch in center field to send his Texas HS team to a championship, but Mott said in an interview that the wind caught and blew it farther away from him as he charged back.

      That #1 award might account for the thinking that Jackson dun gud.

      Clearly, the name for the new stadium should be Capitol Yard, until two weeks after it opens when the naming rights will be sold to Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe, P.A.

      By Blogger Bote Man, at 6/09/2006 4:18 PM  

    • Phil Dunn: Don't we *all* have pictures of Frank sleeping in the dugout?

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/10/2006 1:28 AM  

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