NEW ERA BEGINS WITH NICE WIN
[July 22nd] -- The Washington Nationals gave up three runs in the 7th inning in Friday night's game against the Chicago Cubs and trailed 6-4 in a game they once led 4-1. Of course, that was while the team was still owned by Major League Baseball. The curse of the commissioner, as it were. In the 8th inning, with Alex Escobar batting, incoming team president Stan Kasten announced that the deal was complete, the papers were signed, hands were shaken, and (once the $450 million was transferred on Monday) the Lerner family was now at the helm. Moments later, Alex Escobar lined a ball down the left-field line off of reliever Bob Howryto give the Nationals a 7-6 lead and eventually the win. An omen of things to come? Now that the Lerners are in charge, are good things now going to happen? And if it was an omen, what then does Alex Escobar's injury on the same play mean?
That Escobar is injury prone.
It was without a doubt one of those "weird" games. Marlon Anderson got a three run, two out double because the Cubs' outfield was playing too far in. The ball went well over left-fielder Matt Murton's head and bounced in front of the warning track. If any other player was at the plate, that was a semi-routine fly out. Ryan Zimmerman hit a ball in the third that apparently fooled everyone connected with the MASN broadcast. Zimmerman took a mighty swing, and Bob Carpenter followed with "Ryan Zimmerman! Deep to left! .... [insert video of the upper deck in left-field here]... way back! .... caught at the wall?" Suddenly, the cameraman panned down as Murton made the catch, about four feet in front of the wall, and about seven feet deeper than Anderson's double. When they came back from their commercial break. Carpenter and Tom Paciorek kept replaying and replaying the out, as if they were sure that if they replayed it often enough, the ball would in fact make it to the upper deck.
Zimmerman again showed why he's a "professional" hitter. He hasn't gotten a hit in his last eight at bats, and hasn't looked very comfortable at the plate. So he bunted for a hit. He's been averaging a bunt hit a week, which over the course of the season will add about 20 points to his average. That's a professional hitter.
Marlon Anderson did a nice job once again filling in for Jose Vidro. If the Nationals can move him before the trade deadline (something I'm not sure of at all), Anderson should be able to do a credible job there for the rest of the season. He's nothing special, but he's nothing bad either. Certainly, he's not much of a dropoff when compared to the current, older, Jose Vidro. Pedro Astascio pitched well enough to win, but not well enough to entice another team to take a chance on him in a trade.
Even though the Nationals won Friday, they are still playing like a hoge-poge of players coming and going, which of course, they are. Until Bowden finishes remaking the team, things aren't going to look particularly pretty. Here's hoping that whatever Jimbo does, he does fast.
NATS NOTES: Kevin Grybosky, who gave up a run in three of his four outings since being recalled from New Orleans, his been optioned back to New Orleans. The Nationals, now full of wisdom under their new ownership, has recalled outfielder Ryan Church from New Orleans. Church started the year off very slowly, probably because of the way he was treated by the Nationals (which was either perceived or real - I'm not taking sides) but has hit .347 this month. I never thought the Nats would give Church a another chance.
This was a guy who was on his way to a .300-20-85 2005 season before injuries (he ran into a wall in Pittsburgh saving Chad Cordero's butt last June) took their toll. He is the same guy with the same talents. Put him in the outfield next year, and he's probably going to hit .300-20-80.
I doubt this callup has anything to do with the future, however. My guess is that, because the Nationals' tradeable players keep getting hurt, Jim Bowden wants to showcase Church for a week and then try to get him as far away from Washington as he can. And that's a crying shame. The Nats want to go young, they want to go cheap and they want to win. Ryan Church could help them do all three.
Now that we have ours owners oficially in place as of Monday, I think the trades are going to really start coming. I wouldn't be surprised if we are making deals up until midnight on July 31st.
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