STARTERS START, NATIONALS WIN 8-2
They did just that on Thursday in Viera against the Detroit Tigers, and they won, 8-2.
Many of us thought last year that John Patterson was the best starter on the team, but his 9-9, 3.13 record didn't seem as "sexy" as Livan's 15 wins. Regardless of what Hernandez does in 2006, I feel certain that Patterson will better him. The tall Texan threw five more innings of shutout ball against the Tigers, giving up just four hits while striking out six. For the spring, he has yet to give up a run in twelve innings, allowing only eleven base runners [seven hits, four walks] and striking out 13. Give him 35 starts and he'll win 20 games. He has that type of ability. Mike Stanton and Felix Rodriguez pitched well in relief.
Marlon Byrd continues to push for a starting job, going 2-4 with 2 RBI's, upping his average to .371. Jose Vidro went 0-2 and is now batting .240, but I'm sure his healthy knee far outweighs any concern about his batting. Royce Clayton, however, is a concern; he went 0-3 and lowered his average to .189. Clayton will be the starting shortstop for the next couple of weeks while Cristian Guzman rests, so he'll have ample time to show that he still has the tools to be a starter. Nick Johnson, coming off of five days of the stomach flu, launched his first homer of the spring, and Ryan Zimmerman collected another two hits, including his third homer. Wiki Gonzalez continues his push to back up Brian Schneider, and going 2-2, 3 RBI's against Detroit. Kenny Kelly continues to impress, getting two more hits and is now batting .308. He's not going to make the team, but he might be one of the first options out of New Orleans.
With the Nationals now able to point to a new home, and able to continue to merchandise their own name, they are now beginning to win on the field as well. Hopefully, the team will end spring training on a roll and continue it into the season.
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