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[March 18th] -- After Ramon Ortiz gave up two runs in the top half of the first inning, including his second lead-off home run of the spring, I began to prepare for an article entitled "ORTIZ SUCKS AGAIN!" But after that troubling first frame, he settled down and pitched three innings of shutout ball, allowing only one hit the rest of the way. In all, Ortiz pitched four innings, giving up four hits and only one earned run while striking out three. Both he and the Nationals desperately needed a good outing today, and they got it. Kevin Gryboski continues his push to make the club, allowing one hit in two innings, lowering his ERA to 1.80 for the spring.

Every time I think that Ryan Zimmerman is about to break my heart by becoming "mortal," he jumps out in front of the pack yet again. He was 3-3 against the Mets on Saturday with two doubles and an RBI. He raised his average to .317 and now has a .391 on-base percentage and a .610 slugging average. Wiki Gonzalez just might have the job as Brian Schneider's backup all but nailed down, going 2-2 with four RBI's and is now batting an astounding .444. Royce Clayton hit is first home run of the spring and Nick Johnson walloped his second. After a slow start, Daryle Ward continues to impress, going 2-2 and is now batting .278. There is no question that Matt LeCroy and Robert Fick are ahead of Ward on the depth chart; I wonder if he'll accept demotion to 'AAA' New Orleans or will he refuse and become a free agent once again? Larry Broadway IS the first baseman for the Zephyrs, which means he'll be the DH if he remains with the club.

Don't get too excited about today's big win against the Mets. The Nationals played most of their starters against a split squad that didn't have any veterans. But, a win is a win, especially when you're 4-14 going into the game.

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