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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

So close and yet so far: Nats fail in Philly 6-3

In his post-game conference, Nats manager Manny Acta compared baseball to boxing, saying "I've always felt that baseball was like boxing, if you don't hit the other guy, he's going to hit you." (I may be paraphrasing here, but not by much) Well, for seven innings, the Nats hit the Phillies, but then they essentially stopped, and the Phillies came from behind to tie the ballgame 3-3 and then leaped ahead 6-3, aided by some Nationals errors.

Nats starter Jason Bergmann had another outstanding mound performance, throwing only 87 pitches and allowing only one run in six innings, but he hadn't felt well all day and Manny Acta wanted to bring him out of the game on a positive note, which he certainly did. Bergmann gave the Nats every chance and his performances continue to assure that he will be a stalwart starter for some time to come.

Unfortunately, the bullpen didn't get the job done this time, allowing four hits and three earned runs.

The Phillies "Old Man" Moyer did a solid job, but allowed three runs. He didn't dominate the Nats as he had last week. I gotta like Moyer, though, because there are so few players in baseball who are older than I am, I find it encouraging somehow. On the radio on my way home from work, I heard Charlie and Dave discussing how many father-son combinations that Moyer had thrown against over the years of his career. I don't remember them in detail, but it was a pretty extensive list. Jamie Moyer has had an impressive career indeed.

I think that Austin Kearns got his 500th career hit last night, but I await official confirmation. If so, congratulations, Austin! He had a double and a stand-up triple, and is on a 9 game hitting streak, I believe. Ray Knight recently compared Kearns (his favorite player on the team, because he knew him in Cincinnati) to Detroit Hall-of-Famer Al Kaline.

Ryan Report: Nothing earth-shattering here. Church went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI. He's hitting .306. Zimmerman had three at-bats, and was walked once, he's hitting .233.

Round two of this three-round bout (to exhaust Manny Acta's boxing metaphor) takes place tonight with John Patterson still in pursuit of his first win of the season, against the Phillies Jon Lieber.

The Nats are close, really close, to putting everything together and stringing together some wins. Perhaps they need the return of several starters from Opening Day - Ray King, Nook Logan and Christian Guzman. Maybe they need the outstanding setup services of Luis Ayala, who is due back any time now, perhaps even in time for the Mets series this weekend at R.F.K. Who knows? The ensuing juggling act will be interesting to watch. When Ray King comes back, who will be the odd man out? Speigner won't be because he is Rule 5, Micah Bowie won't because he's their lefty workhorse, Wagner is less likely, too, so the most likely candidate will be Saul Rivera. Watch this space.

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