Home Field Ivy Works Against Cubs, Burnitz As Nats Keep On Rolling
The Washington Nationals have done it again. Jose Guillen staked his team to a first inning, 1-0 lead for the second day in a row, and Washington's defense and Tony Armas' arm lead the Nationals to a 4-2 win over the highly talented but underperforming Chicago Cubs.
The Nationals are now 49-31, 5.5 games in front of the suddenly shaky Atlanta Braves. The Marlins are 7 games out, the Phils 8.5 game behind, and the Mets are in last place, 9 games behind the front running Nationals. Think about it: The Nats could lose five in a row the Braves could in five in a row, and Washington would still be in first place. The St. Louis Cardinals, for much of the season light years ahead of the rest of the teams, are but 1.5 games ahead of the Nationals for the best record in the National League.
There comes a point when we have to try to make sense out of something that makes no sense at all. When the Nationals had a full roster earlier in the season, they were winning many of their games. As they began to lose their key players, they increased their winning percentage. Now, four of their starters are injured and they have responded by winning eight of their last ten games. The Nats are 5th in the National League in ERA, 8th in team batting average, last in home runs and 15th in runs scored. Every statistic, every player on the disabled list, every situation would indicated that the Nationals should be in the cellar, combing their minor league system for some help, some hope for the future. Jim Bowden should be in front of the cameras, explaining that if all eight of his starters hadn't missed time due to injury, the Nationals might have had a chance to reach the .500 mark. Team President Tony Tavares would still be apologizing for the small payroll the team had to work with, but with a little patience, the future would be bright.
Of course, none of that is necessary. The Nationals are on track to win 100 games. What happens when the team begins to get back their top stars, and a thin roster suddenly becomes deep and talented? Will they win even more games? One day very soon, Jim Bowden will announce that the team has spent that $5 million or so they have in reserve on that big bat they needed, or that strong arm for the starting rotation. How much better can this team get?
The Nationals have defied the odds all season long. I'm finally beginning to believe that they are the team to beat in the NL East. They beat the good teams, they beat the bad ones. No franchise is immune to the Nationals magic.
Expect a sweep tomorrow.
So surprised that you missed the most important stat about Saturday's game. The Nats are now outscoring their oppononents for the season, 330-329. Remember all those questions about a time winning games but not outscoring their opponents? Well, for now we're not!
Definitely hoping for a sweep today, and a great series against the Mets at home!
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