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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Nats top O's early, win 7-4 OR Longballs, ahoy!

For one night, at least, the Washington Nationals did their imitation of an American League team.

With homeruns from Ryan Church, Ryan Zimmerman and Brian Schneider, the Nats made quick work of the Baltimore Orioles, backed up by another impressive effort from starter Micah Bowie.

Glad to see that the day-off on Monday didn't slow the team down any!

Micah Bowie just continues to impress. He's got his arm strength up, and he can really make useful adjustments when called for. Randy "The Saint" St. Claire, the Nationals pitching coach, worked with Bowie inning by inning to help him tweak his delivery and it paid instant dividends. This speaks volumes about Bowie, for many pitchers can be told what to do, but often can't adjust so quickly, sometimes taking several days to develop those changes. All Bowie seems to require is a little direction and he can get going. He worked 6 innings, giving up 3 runs on 3 hits, walking 2 and striking out 2, throwing 92 pitches for 54 strikes (57%). I wonder if he will continue to start when the injured starters return to the rotation, or if he will return to the bullpen? The Nats are 5-0 when he starts a game, and Bowie is 3-0 as a starter. Why mess with a good thing?

The bullpen of Saul Rivera, Jon Rauch, Jesus Colome and Chad Cordero did well, except for Colome's shaky 9th inning, where he allowed a run. Chad "The Chief" Cordero came in to get the save, the 100th of his career, which makes Chad the second-youngest pitcher to record 100 saves in his career. Congratulations, Chad!

Oddly enough, the Nats two strongest hitters of late, Cristian Guzman and Dmitri Young, both had poor nights, with Guzman going 0 for 4, and Young going 1 for 5 as the Designated Hitter. I thought for sure that these two would tee-off in the comfy-confines of Oriole Park. Perhaps they are just waiting to meet Mr. Trachsel tonight.

2B Felipe Lopez, now batting second, seemed to snap out of his slump, going 1 for 2 with 2 RBI's and being walked three times. Batting second would seem to agree with him. Excellent patience, Felipe!

Catcher Brian Schneider went 2 for 4, including that gorgeous home run with 2 RBI's and a walk. Way to go, Brian!

Ryan Report: Lots to love. Church put them up early with his solo homer, going 1 for 3 with a walk. Zimmerman went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI's and a walk. Langerhans went 1 for 4 and also had his first stolen base of the season, and Austin Ryan Kearns went 1 for 5.

Nice to see the Nats tear things up a little bit. Intellectually, I enjoy and appreciate small-ball, but every now and then I just want to see a few leave the outfield, I just rest a little more easily when that happens.

I'll actually be at tonight's game, my first visit to Oriole Park in many, many years and obviously my first as a Nationals fan. The last time I was at Oriole Park, Cal Ripken was still the Orioles shortstop, I don't think that he'd yet been moved to third. Back then, I barely knew anything about baseball, and didn't have a rooting interest in any team. I'd taken friends there, and my nephew, but I wasn't falling over myself to visit the place. When Interleague ball began, the first time the Atlanta Braves came to Baltimore, I got tickets for mself and a friend who was a Braves fan to go. He was happy, the Braves won that day. For some reason, it seems as though most of the games I ever saw there (fewer than 10, mind you) seemed to be the Orioles hosting the Seattle Mariners. I certainly never saw the Yankees or the Red Sox. I might have seen the Devil Rays, but I really can't remember. I'm looking forward to either a crabcake sandwich or Boog's Barbecue, maybe some pit beef and fries. I'll look for my friend Howard, who vends there when the Nats are on the road. I'll be with my friends Randi and Myron and his wife. I hope it doesn't rain. I want to see Matt Chico get a win, and it seems to me that he's gotten a couple of no-decisions due to rain delays already this season.

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