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[March 12th]-- As has been the case all spring, a power shortage caused the Washington Nationals to lose their 12th game of the spring. This time, however, it wasn't just their bats that doomed them.

A power outage at the Mets' spring training facility caused the game to be "called" after the sixth inning, with the Nats on the losing end of a 10-4 score. Unlike Ramon Ortiz the day before, Pedro Astacio was a man when asked about his poor performance against New York. In 2 innings, the newest Nat gave up 3 runs on 4 hits, walking 1 while striking out no one. Said Astacio of his bad outing, "You have to worry about it because it's your job." I like that. None of that "I was working on a particular pitch" stuff. Good for him. As has been the case in most all of the Nationals' losses, a non-roster pitcher got bombed to make the score seem lop-sided. This time it was Kyle Denny, who gave up 6 runs in just 3 innings of work.

Marlon Byrd and Brendan Harris went back-to-back against Tom Glavine in the 2nd inning, giving Washington their short-lived lead. Byrd continues to prove that the month spent with hitting coach Mitchell Page in New Orleans last summer continues to make a difference, and Harris continues to prove that he belongs on the major league roster.

The loss means nothing, though. The Mets lineup featured several of their starters, while the Nats played all reserves, including a center fielder (S. Watkins) that I've never heard of before. I could look him up, but "Crossing Jordan" is almost on, and I never miss my favorite medical examiner.

The Nationals made two more errors giving them 18 in the last 7 games. Both were by Damian Jackson. Oops.

Again, I'm not worried about the team's record, but I'd like to make a prediction nonetheless: With Ramon Ortiz and Pedro Astacio getting shelled, with Ryan Drese on the DL until late April at the earliest, and with Tony Armas Jr. getting very few innings in the WBC, I think that Alfonso Soriano's fate as a "former National" is all but sealed. The troika of Frank Robinson, Tony Tavares and Jim Bowden are very happy with Ryan Church and Brandon Watson's performance, meaning they will probably join Jose Guillen in the starting outfield, with Marlon Byrd filling in for Guillen until he's healthy. With Jose Vidro continuing to play well, Soriano will probably be traded soon after he returns from the WBC for some much needed pitching. I don't think the team can take the chance of starting the season with Hernandez-Patterson-Astacio-Ortiz-Armas Jr as the starting five. I'm not saying it won't be difficult; Soriano's contract will make him unattractive to all but the biggest of big city teams, and then to only a select few who need him (read: Red Sox & Cubs).

But unless one of the "kiddie-corps" comes through, unless a Billy Bray or a Collin Balestar pitches no-hit ball for the rest of the spring, it's a deal that has to be made.

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