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Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Notes: Tommy Johns - Let me Help You!, Barry Larkin - Move over Guzman! (though, as it should be, it's up to my wife)

For some reason, despite playing poorly, the Nationals can't seem to get rid of that first place label. They keep losing players (see Guillen, after a long list of others), keep failing to score runs, keep lowering their earned run average, keep . . . oops, did I say keep lowering their ERA? Well, it would appear that the Nationals do want to keep in the games and win, at least the pitching and the GM feel this need. Don't get me wrong, the batters also want to win, but are any of them 100% healthy? Guillen, Castilla, Nick Johnson, Junior Spivey, Ryan Church, Wilkerson, Vidro are all less than 100% healthy. Schneider keeps getting hit by pitches, is he 100% healthy? Well, Johnson apparently will be back today, Guillen promises to be back by Thursday (""I'm not going to let the people in Washington D.C. down. We have come too far to let them down," Guillen said on the telephone. "I played with a broken hamate bone in the past. I should be able to play with [the wrist injury]."), the rest? Well, they keep playing with pain.

Well, now the 55-44 Nationals are tied for first with the Braves, 3.5 games in front of the Phillies (52-48), 4 games in front of the Mets (51-48), and 4.5 games in front of the Marlins (49-47). Anyone remember when the Nationals had a comfortable margin in first?

The Nationals will play their next three games, starting tonight, in fellow first-place Atlanta, then will visit the last place Marlins (just 4.5 back) for three games (by the way, don't try to find those Braves games, apparently the only station that will be carrying the games will be something called MASN, that isn't the George Mason University channel, is it? Do I have to enroll in Mason U to see the Nationals games?). So, tied with the Braves, and 4.5 games in front of the Marlins before playing six straight games against them. Anyone think that the Nationals will be 6 games up in the NL East by the time that road trip is done (they host six games at home with LA Dodgers and the Padres after the road trip)? No one thinks that they will be six games down, do they?

Well, on the odd chance you couldn't find it/haven't read it already, here is the Nationals.com preview for tonight's game, which will feature a 12-4 Liven Hernandez (my knee hurts) and a 11-5 John Smoltz (wait, don't I close?). Here's a quote from that article: ""Offensively, we are trying to hit the ball too far, trying to hit the long ball. You have to deal with the situation as it is. If it calls for a single, you try for a single. It's not pressing. It's just not hitting what the game calls for." -- Hitting coach Tom McCraw, on the Nationals' offense." How about the ESPN preview, anyone care for that? Anyone actually read it (other than me, I mean)? Well, here it is, right here. Oh, thanks CNNSI. Ok, the Probables are: 1st game: Hernadez-Smoltz match-up, then Loaiza-Hudson, and finally Drese and Hampton will finish out the series.

Oh, and before I forget, 62 year-old LHP Tommy John wants to help the Nationals batters get better against LHP. He wants to pitch batting practice, or so says today's editon of "The Hill" (print edtion, is that on-line?). SS Barry (ask my wife) Larkin might return, this year, and take over SS. Any chance this pitcher that pitched until he was 46 would want to more directly help the team, like coming out of retirement?

One last note: Why are the Nationals currently 55-44, and the high-priced Orioles 50-48 (and 3.5 games back in third)? What happened to my Nationals-Orioles World Series match-up?

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