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Friday, May 25, 2007

Nats edge Cards 5-4 OR Dmitri in St. Louis, Louie

Is there any more deliciously-excruciating exercise than watching a major league closer hold onto a 1-run lead in the bottom of the 9th?

That's exactly what Washington Nationals closer Chad Corder did tonight, notching his 7th save of the season as the Nats beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4, in front of 44,000 to kick off the annual Memorial Day-weekend cultural, if not meteorological, start of summer.

While Chad seemed to be more like his old self, the player of the game was Nats centerfielder Nook Logan, who went 2 for 4 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI's. Congratulations, Nook!

The defensive play of the game came courtesy of Nats rightfielder Austin Kearns, who made the Sports-Center catch of all Sports-Center catches, sliding up against the concrete base of the right field wall to rob Jim Edmonds of a hit, and then proceeded to throw to first for a double play, thanks to that cannon of an arm he has. That will definitely make the highlight reel of this season, and could be the MLB defensive play of the week, if not the month of May.

Though those three players were standouts, this was truly a collaborative win. Catcher Brian Schneider got the Nats on top in the 3rd inning with a 2-run homer. Dmitri Young had 2 timely hits. Cristian Guzman didn't get a hit, but he got an RBI.

Erstwhile-starter Micah Bowie pitched a very good game, and got another win in the process. While he gave up two solo home runs, to Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds respectively (which is no disgrace, they are outstanding hitters, after all) he threw 83 pitches with 54 strikes (65%), got 2 runs on 4 hits, walked 1 and struck out 2. Nice numbers, and he continues to excel on the mound as an emergency-starter. The bullpen, well-rested after essentially having the previous night off, allowed 2 runs on 2 hits, from Saul Rivera and Jon Rauch, but Winston Abreu, Ray King and Jesus Colomé kept the Nats in the game.

Ryan Report: Another relatively-quiet night for the Ryans. Church went 1 for 4, Zimmerman went 0 for 4 but got a walk, Langerhans didn't bat (again...), but Austin Ryan Kearns went 2 for 4 and played exciting defense, especially with the aforementioned double play.

The Nats are on a 4-game winning streak, but I'm under no delusions that they are significantly better than their 20-29 record would attest. These St. Louis Cardinals aren't the mighty powerhouse team of recent years, but the Cards are definitely a tougher team than the Reds. If the Nats manage to take either the Saturday game or the Sunday game, I'll be happily satisfied with this road trip. If they take both, I'll be ecstatic.

May has definitely been a better month for the Nats than April. They are heating up along with the temperatures. As long as they stay healthy, by which I mean, as long as they don't lose any more starters to injury and get Jason Bergmann, Shawn Hill, and John Patterson back soon (and perhaps Luis Ayala in June?) I think that this team will be even more fun to watch than I think that they already are.

You'll notice that I didn't mention starter Jerome Williams. While I wish him well, Jerome was the weakest link in the starting lineup, despite having one brilliant outing just before he went on the D/L, and I don't know how the team could deny Mike Bacsik a starting job given his strong performances. Jerome, please get better soon, get some rehab starts and prove me wrong, I'd be more than happy to eat my words.

I hope that all three of you reading this blog have a happy, fun and safe Memorial Day weekend.

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