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Thursday, September 01, 2005


Nationals Win 1 Lose 1 Due to Running; Cruz Missing; Zimmerman Up?

First Game:
Nationals come close, but lose the first game 3-5.

The Nationals scored first in the top of the first inning when Guillen drove in Byrd (who lead off the game with a single) from second off of a single. Unfortunately, the Braves immediately responded with a three run home-run by Andruw Jones, who would also drive in the other two Braves runs in the fifth inning. End of First: 3-1 Braves.

The Nationals cut the lead to 3-2 when they picked up another run in the third inning. Byrd had doubled to start the inning, then Carroll sacrificed himself to move Byrd to third, and then Byrd scored when Johnson grounded out. Score at end of Third: 3-2.

Byrd then scored his third run of the game by hitting a solo home-run with one out in the fifth (his first home-run of the year). The score was now tied 3-3, but that would quickly change when Jones hit a single in the bottom of the third, which scored both Langerhans and Giles. Score at the End of the Fifth: 5-3.

That was that, no more scoring in the first game. The game could be titled "Byrd vs. Jones," with Byrd scoring all of the Nationals runs, and Jones knocking in all the Braves runs.

The Nationals had many chances, but once again found themselves running into outs. Castilla was caught stealing and Guillen was picked off at first (which the Washington Post notes: based on the replays, he looked safe). Oddly enough, this running is how they were able to win the second game, but that's for later.

Loaiza managed to last just 4.1 innings before being pulled. He gave up 7 hits, 5 runs and 4 walks while striking out 2 in 76 pitches. Stanton relieved Loaiza, and actually pitched 1.2 solid scoreless innings. Majewski and Eischen both pitched 1 solid inning to round out the game.

First Game Line-up:
Marlon Byrd, LF 3 for 5, 3 R, 1 2B (8), 1 HR (1), 1 RBI (17) .259
Jamey Carroll, 2B 0 for 3, 1 SH (12), 1 SO .243
Nick Johnson, 1B 1 for 2, 1 RBI (58), 2 BB, .292
Jose Guillen, RF 2 for 4, 1 RBI (69), 1 SO, 1 PK (2) .302
Preston Wilson, CF 0 for 4, 1 SO .257
Vinny Castilla, 3B 1 for 3, 1 BB 1 CS (2) .250
Gary Bennett, C 1 for 3, 1 SO .237
a- Brad Wilkerson, PH 0 for 1, 1 SO .249
Cristian Guzman, SS 0 for 3, 1 SO .192
b- Carlos Baerga, PH 0 for 1, .265
Esteban Loaiza, P 0 for 2, .203
Mike Stanton, P 0 for 0, .000
c- Tony Blanco, PH 0 for 1, .196
Gary Majewski, P 0 for 0, .000
Joey Eischen, P 0 for 0, .333
d- Brian Schneider, PH 1 for 1, .283

They really need to stop using Blanco as a pinch hitter. Maybe, somehow, he acquired a hit in the second half, but I'm still convinced that he hasn't got a hit since at least the first half. It would probably have been better just to have Stanton hit, and then have Majewski come in for the next inning, than to have Blanco try to hit. I believe that Wilkerson is now 0 for 2 as a pinch hitter.

CBS box score. ESPN.com recap. Nationals.com recap. FOX.com box score.

Second Game:
Nationals play a tough game, but finally win off of aggressive base-running by Wilkerson.

With two outs, Wilson hit a double which scored the first run of the game (Johnson) in the top of the first. Unfortunately, the Braves responded immediately with a run of their own in the bottom of the first inning, Jones hit a sacrifice fly and picked up an RBI. Chipper Jones this time. Score at the end of 1: 1-1.

The game remained tied 1-1 until the top of the fifth. With one out, Wilson knocked in another run when he hit into a fielder's choice situation (he was save at first, Guillen was out at 2nd and Vidro scored). This time the Braves didn't respond in the bottom of the inning, and the Nationals pulled out to a narrow 2-1 lead after five innings.

This narrow lead lasted until the top of the seventh, when 1 more run was added by the Nationals. With one out, Guillen hit into a fielder's choice situation and Vidro scored. End of top half of the seventh inning: 3-1. Unfortunately, the Braves immediately answered and scored 1 run of their own in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Orr hit into a fielder's choice (popular scoring method), and Langerhans scored. End of seventh: 3-2.

The Nationals were not able to score in the 8th, but the Braves picked up another run, now the game is a 3-3 tie. The Braves could very well have scored two runs in this 8th inning, but Guillen was able to fling the ball home to get LaRoche out at the plate when he attempted to score along with Giles when Betemit hit a single to right field.

Wilkerson lead off the ninth inning with a single. Vidro then hit a sacrifice to move Wilkerson over to second. While Reitsma was pitching to Johnson, Wilkerson attempted to steal third, the catcher, Brian McCann, flung the ball towards the third baseman, but the ball went sailing into the outfield and Wilkerson ran home for the winning run. Johnson then grounded out, and Guillen closed off the inning by also grounding out. Cordero was able to get three outs off of four batters (with two outs, he walked Kelly Johnson) by striking out 1, and getting 1 to fly out and another to ground out to end the inning and the game.

Hernandez lasted 7.1 innings, and gave up 3 runs off of 10 hits and 4 walks, and struck out 3 in 127 pitches (72 strikes). Stanton relieved Hernandez in the 8th and gave up 1 hit and the hit scored 1 inherited runner (almost 2 but for the great throw home that got LaRoche out at the plate), giving Stanton his first blown save (either of the year or as a National), but he lasted long enough for the Nationals to score while he was the pitcher of record, and so he also picked up 1 win. Cordero pitched the ninth for his 43rd save, which ties John Wetteland's 43 saves in 1992 or 1993.

Second Game Line-up:
Brad Wilkerson, LF 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 SB (7), 1 CS (10), 1 SO, .251
Jose Vidro, 2B 3 for 4, 2 R, 1 SH (2), .269
Nick Johnson, 1B 1 for 3, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 SO, .292
Jose Guillen, RF 2 for 5, .303
Preston Wilson, CF 1 for 4, 1 2B (26), 2 RBI (72; 1 of which was a 2 out RBI), 1 SO .257
Carlos Baerga, 3B 0 for 3, 1 SO .259
Vinny Castilla, 3B 0 for 1, .249
Brian Schneider, C 0 for 3, 1 BB .281
Cristian Guzman, SS 2 for 4, 2 2B (12) .196
Livan Hernandez, P 0 for 4, .232

CBS recap. ESPN Box score. Nationals.com recap. FOX.com box score. Washington Times.com recap of the double header.
He was expected to arrive before the double-header, at least the second game, but missed two planes (one unexplained, other delayed in security line).
NL East:
Atlanta won 1, lost 1. Phillies over the Mets 8-2. Cards dominate the Marlins 10-5.

Braves 75-58,
Phillies 71-62, 4.0 GB
Marlins 70-63, 5.0 GB
Mets 69-63, 5.5 GB
Nationals 69-64, 6.0 GB
Wild Card:
Same as above, plus Houston crush the Reds 10-0, and Brewers 6-5 over the Pirates.

Phillies 71-62,
Astros 70-62, 0.5 GB
Marlins 70-63, 1.0 GB
Mets 69-63, 1.5 GB
Nationals 69-64, 2.0 GB
Brewers 65-68, 6.0 GB
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.

ESPN.com stat pack. Nationals.com preview. SI.com preview.
Start of 10 Game Homestand:
Vicente Padilla (7-12, 4.67) vs. John Halama (1-2, 5.14)

Scouting Report:
Padilla had a rough night on Sunday against the Diamondbacks, giving up six earned runs in his three innings. He issued four walks, three of which came ahead of Shawn Green's ninth career grand slam in the third.

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.
Eude Brito (0-0, 1.59) vs. John Patterson ?

Scouting Report:
Brito received a no-decision on Aug. 21 against the Nationals, though he deserved better. He surrendered just one run on three hits, with the run scoring on a Brad Eldred solo homer. Otherwise, he was near perfect through the first four innings, retiring 12 of the 13 batters he faced.

The Nationals had not announced a starter for Saturday's game on Wednesday night.

But a Washington Post article mentioned that Patterson might start because he only threw 61 pitches in his brief start, and he is beginning to feel better ("Because he threw just 61 pitches, he and pitching coach Randy St. Claire said he will start Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies").
Last game in the series.
Monday: Florida Marlins visit.

Ismael Valdez (1-1, 4.36) vs. someone.

Scouting Report:
Effective in his last start, Valdez was not involved in the decision in a game the Marlins pulled out against the Cardinals. The veteran has lossed 33 innings this season, returning from a fractured bone in his right leg before the season started. He has struck out 19 and walked 11.
Zimmerman Likely will be Called up, but no news yet. See Ladson's article. And/or the Washington Times article by Ken Wright.

Braves Blog:
"Braves 5-3 Nats 3-4" by Sam Bass of Brave-O-Matic.
"Game one was the Andruw show, as he drove in all five runs and made two signature catches. " Then talk about the MVP race, and then:
"Game two featured a more game effort by John Thomson, whom we obviously need to step up in the final 5 weeks of the season."

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