Monday, August 07, 2006

Eighteen Down, Nine To Go

3-6 on one of those killer west coast trips ain't so bad for a mediocre team, I suppose. Sure, it's not 6-3. It's not even 4-5. But it beats 2-7, right? What's heartening, I guess, about the games is that the Nats were in most of them. A hit or two here or there, and they could've walked away with more wins. But then, if they really were getting those hits or two, they wouldn't be a lousy team in the first place. Still, it's nice finally having an offense, one that, even when the team gets down by three runs early, is capable of coming back. Last year, down three, you might as well find something else to do, like scrapbooking or mending the hem on your pants.

Nats Record: 3-3
Overall: 49-62. .500 remains a pipe dream. As well as the Nats have played, they'd have to win at a 102-win pace over their final 51 games. Good luck with that. Playing just .500 point forward, or even a few games, is probably a reasonable goal.
Runs Scored: 31 (5.2/g); Overall, 513 (9/16 teams).
Runs Allowed: 27 (4.5/g); Overall, 574 (14/16 teams).
Expected Record: 49-62. Never doubt Pythagoras.

What's Good?
1) Soriano! Ho-hum. 5 extra-base hits, 8 RBI, a .346 batting average. But only 2 steals? The bum! (Actually, the 9 Ks he had are a bit alarming.) One of these days, teams are going to stop trying to take the extra base on his arm at every opportunity. It's not working very well for them!

2) Everybody Not Named Armas, Wagner or Astacio. The pitching was decent this week. Livan, especially excelled. Ortiz was effective. Cordero, Hughes, Rivera and Rauch combined for 8 scoreless appearances.

3) Marlon Anderson. Jose Vidro might come back this week, but if Marlon keeps playing the way he has been, Jose needs to sit. Marlon's a decent fielder, showing much more range than Jose has. And he hit like Jose used to, .316/ .409/ .579 for the week.

What's Bad?
1) Nick Johnson. This just wasn't his week, hitting .130 with 7 Ks against just two non-intentional walks.

2) Tony Armas. Has he had a good start in a month? It's been a far cry from April and May when he was the only starter capable of keeping the team in the game. He got cuffed around, giving up 6 runs in just 3+ innings.

3 AKA: The Brian Schneider Memorial Spot) Brian Schneider. He ripped a double, which was his first extra-base hit since early July. That went with his one walk for the week. Hey, he had a stolen base, though! (!?!?)

Game O' The Week
It wasn't the most exciting game of the year, but it was the kind of game that's fun to attend -- too bad it was in San Francisco. Livan hopped in the time machine and brought us back to last year, pitching like he did, and having the Nats win a game the way they did last year, 4-1 over the Giants.

The Nats scored their first two runs by hitting into outs. Soriano hit a flyball to score Brian Schneider, and Nick Johnson hit into a double play to give the Nats a 2-0 lead. Last year, that would've been more than enough, but this ain't last year's Livan. Somehow, he found his breaking pitch, and threw enough sliders to keep the Giants off balance. The Giants scored one in the 6th to pull within one, and it looked like the Nats could lose another heartbreaker.

In the 8th, Daryle Ward led off, pinch hitting for Livan, doubling to left (it sure seems like he comes through every time, doesn't it?). Felipe Lopez worked a walk and stole second, putting runners on 2/3 for Ryan Zimmerman. With blood in the water, the shark attacked, driving the ball down the line in left, getting both runs in, and giving the Nats a comfortable 3-run lead. As bad as the bullpen is at times, you just knew that this was one they'd hold on to. Bowie came in, followed by Rauch and Cordero. Bang! Zoom!

MVP Award
Honorable Mention to Felipe Lopez' .364/ .464/ .636, but this was Ryan Zimmerman's week. He stepped it up even higher, crushing the ball for 2 homers and 7 RBI and beating out Soriano in the big three categories: .348/ .444/ .783.

Cy Young Award
Is it anyone but Livan? He's not the 9-inning pitcher he was, but 7 innings per start, especially with just a 1.93 ERA is more than enough! I made the mistake of thinking he was toast earlier. I guess not. What's impressive, too, is that he struck out 10 batters in those 14 innings of work. The zip's back on his slider -- and despite the focus on the velocity of his fastball, it was his slider that was the true problem.

LVP Award
Sorry, Nick. Had he shown up this week, the Nats win at least one, probably two more games.

Joe Horgan Award
Three cheers for Ryan Wagner and the 5 runs he gave up in 2+ innings. Meanwhile, Roy Corcoran, who allowed just one run in three appearances gets the shuttle to New Orleans? Alrighty.