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[June 23rd] -- I'm getting a little tired of having to keep looking for the silver lining within each Nationals' loss. Luckily, there really was one on Friday Night.

John Patterson, counted on to be the number-two starter for the team this year, went on the disabled list with exactly one win more than a month ago. After an unimpressive rehab stint at both Potomac and New Orleans, Patterson returned to the rotation with the admonition to stop the team's bleeding. Well, he didn't stop the bleeding, but he slowed it considerably. Patterson pitched six strong innings, allowing seven hits and no walks while striking out three. He lowered his ERA to 3.41. Patterson answered two questions on Friday. Yes, he's healthy, and yes, he can be the team's stopper if called upon. Considering the speed in which the Nationals are plummeting, and the ineffectiveness of the de facto stopper, Livan Hernandez, I'd say he'll be getting the "official title" any day now.

Other than that, another poor performance all around for the Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman, since cresting at .286 on Sunday, has seen his batting average drop fifteen points. Royce Clayton got three hits, as did Jose Vidro. That was about it.

I can't tell you why the Nationals have become a lethargic, heavy footed, head-to-the-ground team after the three week rapture that made us all feel so warm and fuzzy. Maybe this is the real team. Maybe the mix of veterans and rookies, at least in this case, just isn't working. Reports have placed GM Jim Bowden's right-hand man Bob Boone at a Yankees' Double-A game doing some serious scouting. Unless the veterans starting hitting and pitching soon, however, we won't have anyone the Yankees, or any other team for that matter, would want.

Hopefully, the Nationals will rebound tomorrow. We can hope, can't we?

I have wondered for a long time, if MASN color man Tom Paciorek, a pretty good hitter in his own right, can see all these flaws in the swings of certain Nationals batters, then why can't batting coach Mitchell Page see them. Soriano is now swinging like a rusty gate. Zimmerman continues to be infatuated with chopping the ball to right field. I witnessed Page teaching him that at Viera. Zim has lost his sweet swing of last season because Page screwed with it. It returned briefly last Sunday with the walk off homer but has disappeared again. Someone who knows something about hitting needs to work with these guys.
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