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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Nats edge Reds 4-3 for first road series win OR Reds menace no threat in the end

May I see a show of hands from all of the fans who still have doubts about Cristian Guzman, please?

Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?

Didn't think so.

Cristian Guzman's solo home run got the Nats off to a great start in the first inning tonight and helped to set the stage for another sweet Nationals victory, as they took the Cincinnati Reds 4-3 to take this road series 3 games to 1, their first road series victory of the season.

Now it is the Reds, not the Nationals, who have the worst record in the majors. At least for one night.

While Cristian Guzman continues to impress, the real hero of tonight's game has to be starter Mike Bacsik. Bacsik pitched 7 2/3 innings, and while he allowed 7 hits, up until the 8th inning he'd only allowed 1 run. He threw 100 pitches, and 98 of them were great. One of them became a solo home run for left-fielder Adam Dunn in the 5th, but it was that 100th pitch that made things far too interesting for Nats manager Manny Acta. That 100th pitch became a 2-run homer to Reds shortstop Alex Gonzalez in the bottom of the 8th, and Acta pulled Bacsik in favor of fresh-arm lefty Billy Traber. Still, Bacsik only walked 1 and struck out 4 and he threw 64% strikes. He got a much-deserved win and left the bullpen fresh to face the St. Louis Cardinals for the weekend. In addition to his outstanding pitching, Bacsik played very head's-up defense as well. In a move that is certain to be held up as a shining example of it's kind, Bacsik covered 3rd base and made a crucial out in a freak play in the bottom of the 8th: The Reds had runners at 1st and 2nd with no outs. Ryan Freel hit a ball straight towards Nats 2B Felipe Lopez, who tried to get David Ross out at 2nd, but Lopez' throw wasn't clean and it got away from him. Nats 3B Ryan Zimmerman fielded the ball and threw it to Bacsik who covered 3rd to tag Ross, who might have scored on the play had he not done so. I think that Charlie Slowes on the radio called it "your basic 4-5-1 play" (ha!)

Ryan Report: Well, we can't have everything, now, can we? Church went 0 for 4, Zimmerman went 1 for 4, Langerhans didn't bat, but Austin Ryan Kearns went 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI.

Besides Cristian Guzman, the truly hot bat of the night belonged to Dmitri Young. "Da Meat Hook" went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI's and a double. Between Lopez, Kearns and Young, the Nats "Cincinnati Kids" proved valuable in this series.

It was somewhat bittersweet to see former-Nat Gary Majewski come in to the game
for Cincinnati in the top of the 9th. He only threw about 20 pitches, hitting Tony Batista on one. I liked him as a Nat, but I sure don't miss him. He is the only player the Reds really have to show from the trade last summer which brought the Nats Felipe Lopez and Austin Kearns and Ryan Wagner. What a great trade that was!

Once again, I listened to this game on the radio at work and followed it on "Game Day" until I went home listening to it on the radio and them catching the 9th inning on MASN. While these games were a lot of fun (even that first one was fun until, well, let's just say it, until the Nats collapsed and lost it), I'm not under any delusions here. The Cincinnati Reds are a woeful team this season, and The Great American Ball Park is an anomaly as far as road venues for the Nats to play in. Only Philadelphia, Colorado and perhaps Houston offer hitting confines as hospitable as TGABP, so I don't expect this weeks offensive onslaught to continue into St. Louis, but I hope that this Red series perhaps gave the Nats some renewed confidence. One happy result of these past 4 games is, NO INJURIES! For once, we haven't lost a single pitcher or position player to any nagging injuries. No contusions, no muscle-pulls, no strains, no "flu-like symptoms" or "general exhaustion", just a happy band of brothers off to engage the defending World Series Champions in their shiny new ballpark.

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