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NATS WIN AGAIN, CUBS SEEING RED


[July 22nd] -- Alex Escobar is something special, and apparently has been for quite some time. But if you're not healthy and can't play, no one is going to notice.

They're noticing now. And how.

Less than 24 hours after injuring his hamstring again, Escobar hit a pinch hit, two-run homer that turned a close game into easy 7-3 Nationals' win. It was obvious by the limp as he rounded the bases that he's nowhere near 100%. That said, I assumed he was out for the year after watching him being helped off the field last night. My guess is he'll have problems with the injury for the rest of the year but should be able to play fairly regularly.

If Alfonso Soriano is "going," at least he's going out with a "bang." Soriano got four hits on Saturday, three doubles and a triple, and drove in a run. I can only imagine what this guy is going to bring in a trade when the deal finally happens. I'm going to miss him soooo much. Some fans one the message boards are hoping that, as Soriano has noted more than once, he'll return as a free-agent signee next year. Two things. First, no way does the Nationals come close to paying Soriano "fair market value." That's probably going to be somewhere near 5 years/$75 million. Second, for a team wanting to build up it's shabby farm system, I can't see Stan Kasten signing off on a deal that's going to lose them their first round draft pick (of course, if the Nats end the season poorly, they may notllose that pick -- that's not a given).

The newbies, Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez look like they are finally starting to feel comfortable in a Washington uniform. They combined to go 3-7 with Kearns getting his first homer for the Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman "only" went 1-5, but that one hit, a double, drove in two runs and is now up to 63 for the year. He's still on pace to drive in 100 runs for the season.

Livan Hernandez pitched his second straight "quality" start, allowing three runs in six innings. He's not pitching as well as we expected, but he is pitching well enough to get him traded for prospects. Speaking of trades, The Blue Jays sent Shea Hillebrandt to the San Francisco Giants, which kills any chance of the Giants trading for Vidro and playing him at first. It's now Hillebrandt's position and Vidro, unless Mets' GM Omar Minaya has a brain cramp, will remain in Washington.

More later ... out enjoying my Saturday.


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