Strong Performance By Armas
[August 3rd] - I think it's safe to say that the Washington Nationals are finally out of that giant pothole that enveloped them for the better part of a month. No, theyr'e not that 19 games over .500 team either, and I doubt that, this year anyway, they'll approach those kind of numbers again. But they do have the look of a team that's going to play at least .500 the rest of the season, providing as many good nights as bad.
And that's OK.
The end of the looooooooong slide seems to have come at about the same time that Nick Johnson returned to the D.C. lineup. Johnson homered for the second time since returning from the disabled list and helped power the Nats to a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, evening the series at one game a piece. Although Tony Armas pitched only 5 innings, they were 5 quality innings in gaining his 6th win of the season. In each outing, the soon to be free agent seems more comfortable on the mound, and more effective in the box score. His once embarrassing ERA is now down to a [almost] respectable 4.64. If Armas can continue his game by game improvement, he gives Washington 2 number 1 starters and 4 quality arms in the rotation. Chad Cordero earned his 36th save of the season, by far the leader in both leagues.
Preston Wilson, who like Junior Spivey came to Washington and saw his offensive numbers dip, went 2-4 with a long home run to center field, his 3rd as a member of the Nationals. However, other than Wilson, no one else in the starting lineup got more than one hit. Brad Wilkerson continues to slide back into numbers similar to last season, but with much less power. His forearm is to blame for that, however. Cristian Guzman got another hit and is now inching closer to the .190 mark.
More amazing than the Nationals July swoon on the field is the continued support by the fans of Washington. For the second straight night, the Nationals drew more than 36,000 for a mid week game, games that they were drawing 25,000 for just a month ago. It was easy for Washingtonians to climb onto the bandwagon when things were going good, but I was concerned as to their support when things turned for the worse. I shouldn't have been worried.
Without any real offensive production, the best the team can hope for is a win, a loss, and win. That said, 90 wins is still a real possibility, especially if Wilkerson, Vidro and Castilla begin to hit again.
Let's see if they do.