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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Nats blast Bronson before bullpen blows big lead, beaten 8-7 OR Reds rally ruins roadgame

Well, that was unpleasant.

After the Nationals rocked the Cincinnati Reds and their staff ace, starter Bronson Arroyo, for 4 runs in the 1st inning last night in their most productive first-inning so far this season, they tacked on two more runs in the 2nd, to take a 6-0 lead, the most commanding position they've seen themselves in this spring. Things were certainly looking good. Arroyo, who had victimized the Nats badly last season, was in for only 2 innings, as he gave up those 6 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks, and threw an ungodly-high 62 pitches.

When a starter comes out after 2 innings, I always hope that the Nats are out of the woods, but I had a funny feeling that last night's game might be different, and I couldn't have imagined how right I would be. The Reds bullpen only allowed 3 hits and 1 run (a solo homerun), striking out 8 and walking 2. With that, the Nats offense was also essentially done after 2 innings.

Nats starter Leval Speigner didn't fare much better than his Reds counterpart, working 3 innings and throwing 66 pitches for 37 strikes (56%) allowing 5 runs on 7 hits, 3 walks and 2 homeruns. The Nats bullpen, which has been their strength all spring, couldn't hold back the rallying Red tide. Winston Abreau and Saul Rivera allowed only 2 hits between them in their combined 4 innings of play, but poor Jon Rauch blew the save in the 8th allowing 3 runs on 3 hits, including a homerun by Javier Valentin.

Ryan Report: So encouraging, but we were down a Ryan. Church sat out this game because of a forearm contusion that he suffered in the Sunday game, but manager Manny Acta said that Church was due for a day off anyway, having played in all 44 games up until yesterday. Zimmerman had the sort of offensive night that we love to see, going 3 for 5, with 2 runs, 2 RBI's, a double and a solo homerun in the 4th. He was a triple away from the cycle. Langerhans was 0 for 2, but he was walked twice. Austin Ryan Kearns, making a return trip to his old stomping grounds, was only 1 for 4 but he hit a 2-run homerun in the 2nd.

Dmitri Young and Brian Schneider each went 2 for 4, with Young driving in 2 runs and Schneider 1.

All in all, a game with tremendous promise, but one that I'd now just as soon forget.

Tonight, Matt Chico takes on Kirk Saarloos. Chico, the only member of the starting rotation not on the disabled list, is looking for his 4th win of the spring.

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