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[April 8th] -- Where do I begin.

Five runs in the first inning. I mean, five runs in the first inning! When you give a guy like Roy Oswalt a five run lead, you might as well shower and head back to the hotel, because Oswalt just doesn't blow big leads.

Well, yes he does.

Two things are becoming clear about the 2006 version of the Washington Nationals. One, they aren't very good and are going to be down early in most of their games, and two, they have a feisty streak that allows them to claw their way back into many of those games. It may not be a winning summer, but it most certainly will be entertaining.

Alfonso Soriano is beginning to win me over. He continues to make the routine plays in left and occasionally makes a difficult one or two. His home run in the second inning was impressive, but his double in the seventh was downright amazing. He drove an 0-2 pitch to the wall, difficult to do when you're trying to protect the plate, just trying to make contact. Jose Vidro continues to impress as well, hitting a long three run home run in the 8th to seal the win for Washington (The Nationals have now hit a 3-run homer in three straight games -- they didn't hit their first one last year until the end of May).

After looking like a 21 year old the last two games, Ryan Zimmerman is again showing why he's a serious candidate for NL rookie of the year. After striking out seven times in a row, after never even coming close to hitting the ball, Zimmerman made adjustments Saturday. After falling behind 0-2, he went the other way and stroked a single to right field. When a player is hitting off his front foot (like Zim has been), hitting to the opposite field helps keep his weight back. Ryan listened to Mitchell Page, and followed his instructions. He got two hits and drove in a run, showing that he's back.

Brandon Watson is definitely not back. He got another hit, sure, but was thrown out trying to steal third base. That's two hits in the last two games for Watson, and both times, he was erased from the base paths (caught stealing and picked off first last night). A single every night just isn't enough for the kid to keep his job, even when he doesn't get picked off. Unless something dramatic happens, I don't think he'll be around come mid May.

Brian Schneider looked good (thank goodness). Coming in to Saturday's game, Schneider was a very bad 0-13. How bad? Not a single batted ball had reached the outfield. He got two hits and seems to have regained his stroke.

Livan won the game, but really, he shouldn't have. In six innings, Hernandez gave up twelve hits and walked one. His ERA is now 5.25.

Hey, they won, and count on them to keep coming back like they have against pitchers like Roy Oswalt and Pedro Martinez. The reality is that our best pitcher allowed the Nats to be down five runs after just one inning. For the team to win, it's going to have to be the result of solid defense, consistent pitching and timely hitting. I haven't seen any of them so far this year.

Today, Andy Petitt goes against Ryan Drese. We really, really need Drese to pitch well. Someone needs to anchor the back of the rotation; it might as well be Drese. Right?

Go Nats.

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