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Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Nationals win 3-2; Nationals Acquire an infielder (read: SS); Last two games before Rosters Expand; Robinson's birthday today; MLB - New Owners

The Nationals beat the reigning NL East Division champs in a close 3 to 2 game. Meanwhile, everyone else in the NL East, and the wild card race won their games except for the Phillies. And despite a comment by a Nationals player, I believe it was Guillen, the team is, in fact, still in last place in the NL East.

In other news, Devi Cruz, career .269 batter in 1214 games (4073 AB, 1096 H, 249 2B, 16 3B, 70 HR, 463, 131 BB, 426 SO, 16 SB 28 CS, .293 OBP, .390), has been acquired from the Giants for a minor league pitcher which the Nationals sent off with these kind words: Not a potential major leaguerer.

Robinson turns 70 today. Nice article in the Washington Post about it. About how people thought that he was to old at 30 to be a great player (who thought 30 was too old?) and how Robinson showed them by winning the AL MVP, AL Triple Crown, and World Series MVP in 1966, his first year with those orange and black birds up north.

Rosters expand on September 1st, tomorrow. The Washington Post believes that the team will call up ten players, roughly 4 to 5 more than most teams call up at this point in the season (article linked under the word "believes"also is the recap of last night's game and mention of the trade). - Nationals Farm Authority blog has a great analysis of who these 10 call-ups might be "Ladson on September Call-ups"

The team is supposed to be sold this weekend, or at least that was the goal. Maybe they'll meet that goal, though it is unlikely. The Times has an article about the MLB narrowing the field:

Major League Baseball likely will narrow the field of bidders for the Washington Nationals by establishing a price only a few groups can meet, then choosing a winner from among them using two criteria: local ownership and minority representation.

"They will be looking closely at local connections and a minority presence," said a source familiar with the selection process.

Those factors may prove to have more influence than connections within the game or with commissioner Bud Selig than they have had in the sale of other franchises in recent years.

The Game:
Patterson lasted just 2.2 innings, he held off his illness just long enough to give up 2 runs in the third inning. After that he left complaining of stomach cramps (Nationals.com article: " In the bottom of the third inning, with runners on first and second, two outs and the Braves already leading 1-0, Patterson was sweating profusely. In fact, his uniform top was already drenched in sweat."). Bergman relieved Patterson (and tried to relief Patterson before he walked in the second run: "There was a little miscommunication out there," Bergmann said. "The bullpen coach [Bobby Natal] said, 'Go, you are in.' Mr. Robinson gives me a puzzled look and the umpire [Larry Vanover] comes over to me and said, 'They didn't call for you. You are not in.' I said, 'What?' I went back in and I asked if this was my rookie prank.") and pitched two solid innings, giving up 3 hits and 2 walks but allowing no runs to score and striking out 2. Bergman's era remains 0.00, and he has picked up his first major league win. Carrasco also pitched 2 innings, Majewski pitched 1.1 and Cordero picked up his 42nd Save.

Both starting pitchers entered the third inning with the score tied 0-0. Patterson, as mentioned above, gave up two runs in that inning, and Sosa gave up zero. Score after three innings: 2-0.

The Nationals immediately responded to the two runs when Guillen hit his 24th home-run to lead-off the inning. And were able to add 2 more in the 5th, driving the score to 3-2 in favor of the Nationals. Oddly enough, Bergman scored the second Nationals run when Vidro hit a double. With 2 out and 2 on, Wilson knocked in the winning run when he stepped up to the plate and hit a single, scoring Johnson. That sounds mildly confusing so: Bergman lead off with a single, then Wilkerson flied OUT, then Vidro doubled and Bergman scored (but Vidro OUT trying to go to third), then Johnson Doubled, Guillen intentionally walked, and then Wilson's single . . .

And that was that. Nationals won 3-2, and two of the Nationals pitchers got hits, Patterson and Bergman, while Guzman went 0-4.

B Wilkerson LF 2 for 5, 1 SB (6) .249
J Vidro 2B 1 for 4, 1 2B (20) 1 RBI (31), 1 BB, 1 SO .262
N Johnson 1B 1 for 5, 1 2B (31), 1 R, 1 SO .291
J Guillen RF 2 for 3, 1 HR (24), 1 RBI (68), 1 R, 1 BB .301
P Wilson CF 1 for 4, 1 RBI (70; with 2 out), 2 SO .260
B Schneider C 0 for 4, 1 SO .281
V Castilla 3B 2 for 4, 1 SO .249
C Guzman SS 0 for 4, 1 SO .194
J Patterson P 1 for 1, .087
J Bergmann P 1 for 1, 1 R .500
H Carrasco P 0 for 1, 1 SO .000

a-C Baerga PH 0 for 1, .267

SI.com recap. FOX.com recap. ESPN recap, box score. Nationals.com recap. CBS.com recap. Washington Times recap.
NL East:
All won execpt the Braves and Phillies.
Braves 74-57,
Marlins 70-62, 4.5 GB
Phillies 70-62, 4.5 GB
Mets 69-62, 5.0 GB
Nationals 68-63, 6.0 GB
Wild Card:
All won except the Phillies.
Marlins 70-62
Phillies 70-62
Astros 69-62, 0.5 GB
Mets 69-62, 0.5 GB
Nationals 68-63 1.5 GB
Brewers 64-68, 6.0 GB
The Trade:
Cruz is no Alex Rodriquez, but he is a definite improvement over this year's Cristian Guzman (as opposed to the career Guzman). Oh, and he will cost the Nationals somewhere around $136,000 for the rest of the year, compared with whatever is left on Guzman's contract for this season. Cruz can also play second base, so Zimmerman's experiment at SS is not completely, absolutely over. Vidro's legs are not particularly healthy, so Cruz could see some time at second base, and Zimmerman, expected to be called up tomorrow when the rosters expand, could see some time at SS. More than likely, Zimmerman will give Castilla some rest at 3B and Cruz will take over SS from Guzman. Baring injuries that change this potential position placements.

Cruz is currently hitting .268, with an on-base percentage of .301, a slugging percentage of .397 and has 10 doubles, 1 triple, 5 home-runs and 19 RBI's in 81 games.

Guzman this year: 115 games: 10 doubles, 5 triples, 3 home-runs, 19 RBI, .235 OBP .273 SLG and .194 batting average.

So, basically Cruz is a six year older verison of Guzman, but with a higher current batting average.

Bowden: "Guzie is hitting under .200, Vidro is playing with sore quads and is going to have to play hurt the rest of the year. We're not scoring any runs . . . so we need some choices. I need to give Frank some choices."

Nationals.com stats page for Cruz, for Guzman.

ESPN.com article. Nationals.com article. Washington Times Article.
The Double-Header:
Esteban Loaiza (9-9, 3.57) vs. Horacio Ramirez (10-8, 4.52)

Livan Hernandez (14-6, 3.87) vs. John Thomson (who I thought was Thompson; 3-4, 4.97)

ESPN.com stat pack for the double header (actually, it has Ramirez and Loaiza listed as "Today's Starter" without mention of Hernandez and Thomson (except in the overall stats section) and they have the game starting 8:05 pm, when it is supposed to start 45 minutes after the first game, which could conceivably be 8:05 pm). Nationals.com preview.
Tony Armas (7-7, 4.53) vs. John Smoltz (13-6, 2.96)
Scouting Report:
Armas will make his first appearance since Aug. 23. On that day, Armas left the game against the Reds after three innings because of a sore left shoulder. On Thursday, Armas will face the Braves for the second time this season. He has yet to pick up a decision, but he has given up two runs in six innings.

Smoltz looks for his team-high 14th win after breaking a four-start winless streak his last time out at Milwaukee. He’ pitched seven innings in 15 of his last 17 starts and is 1-0 with a 2.86 ERA (seven ER in 22 IP) in three starts against Washington this season.
Friday: Current WC tied leader Phillies (70-62) visits RFK for 3 games
John Halama (1-2, 5.14) vs. Vicente Padilla (7-12, 4.67)

Scouting Report:
Halama will face the Phillies for the third time in his career. He has yet to pick up a decision, but he has given up two runs in four innings against them. In his last outing, Halama was an emergency starter for the Nationals, and he pitched well, giving up two runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Cardinals, who the won the game, 6-0.
Braves Blog:
"Braves silenced by Nationals' bullpenAtlanta unable to capitalize on starter's early departure"

aneternalenigma writes on The Braves Blog:
"While John Patterson spent most of the evening in the clubhouse because of stomach cramps, the Braves created their own discomfort by being unable to take advantage of countless opportunities.

Given the benefit of not having to see Patterson after the third inning, the Braves offense experienced their share of struggles against the Nationals' bullpen. Consequently they found themselves on the wrong end of what turned out to be yet another one-run contest between these division opponents."
San Francisco Response to the Trade:
"Deivi Cruz trade"
Daniel writes in the Orange and Black Baseball blog:
"Deivi Cruz was traded, as was Jason Christiansen. I don't know to who, or to where, but I do know Brian Sabean got minor league pitching in return." - and then provides a link to SFGate.com article on the trades.

"Open Gameday Thread, 8/30"
Grant writes in the McCovey Chronicles:
"Deivi gave more than we ever, ever could have hoped as a waiver pickup from the pre-interesting Devil Rays. He wasn't in the plans for next year, so for the Giants to get anything for him is a coup. Deivi was a good role player, and having a fair offensive player as the backup shortstop gave this team a nice bit of depth. I'll miss him and always appreciate his greatest skill, which was not being Cody Ransom."
And don't forget those Orange and black birds up north:
"Baltimore Relievers are FAN...Crappy"
Jeff Lippman writes a rather good examination of the O's bullpen pitchers.

"What happened to the Baltimore Orioles' relief pitching? Wasn't it supposed to be one of the best in baseball before the year began?"

Personally I stopped caring about the O's before this season began, so I can't answer the question. Wasn't paying attention. But Lippman is paying attention:

"Well, then why is every reliever the O's shuttle in and out of the game the worst pitcher I have ever seen? Anytime the starter leaves it goes from bad to worse for the O's, no matter what reliever they put in."

Did not know this, interesting information.

The relievers from the beginning of the year until today are mentioned and some examined. For example:

Tim Byrdak has bounced around the majors like a red rubber ball. A red rubber ball with a slippery surface because he has never stuck anywhere. Maybe he has found a home with the Orioles. Since being called up to the majors, Byrdak has been the O's most successful relief pitcher, however, recently has struggled and is getting some rest due to fatigue and shoulder strain. Lately, his stats don't look impressive either.

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