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Friday, July 27, 2007

Nats take Mets 6-2, win 1st of 4 OR Church, Bacsik are double-trouble in New York

I'm starting to think that the secret to the Nats winning more games the rest of this season is for them to play against more pitchers named Jorge.

They've had such success this season against Jorge Julio, of the Marlins/Rockies, and last night in Queens, they jumped all over starter Jorge Sosa early and often.

The Nats jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the 2nd inning on Ryan Church's R.B.I. double which scored Dmitri Young, who had reached 2nd on his own double, then Brian Schneider drove in Church on HIS own double, then Nook Logan hit a ground-rule double to score Schneider, the 4th double of the inning and the game-winning R.B.I. - Congratulations, Nook!

Nats starter Mike Bacsik got his 4th win of the season and had his most impressive outing to date. The bullpen was gassed, having played 3 straight games in Philadelphia, including the 14-inning marathon on Wednesday night, and Manager Manny Acta was determined that Bacsik pitch as many innings as possible to spell the bullpen, given that they were facing 3 more games this weekend, including today's day/night double-header. The Nats simply couldn't afford for Bacsik to make an early exit, and Acta apparently ordered that Bacsik stay in even if he began to get rocked by the Mets, to "take one for the team". But Bacsik rose to the challenge in heroic fashion, working 7 innings, throwing 55 strikes on 83 pitches (66%) allowing 8 hits but only 2 runs, walking 1, but striking out none. Fortunately, Bacsik also had some great defense behind him, too. He even helped his own cause - with 2 plate appearances, Bacsik was walked once and got himself a hit.

Thanks to that great defense, and lots of excellent offense, the only reliever the Nats needed was Luis Ayala, who pitched the 8th and 9th innings, allowing no runs and no hits, and striking out 2. This is the Ayala that we remember from 2005, when he was widely regarded as one of the best setup men in baseball.

Ryan Report: Church went 2 for 4 with 2 R.B.I.'s, including that 2nd inning R.B.I. double, followed by his 8th inning 2-out homer, Zimmerman went 2 for 4 with a walk, Langerhans did not bat, and Austin Ryan Kearns went 1 for 3 with a walk and a 7th inning homerun. This was an especially sweet victory for Church, who has become the subject of trade rumors with the revelation that soon-to-be re-signed Dmitri Young will likely play left field next season, jeopardizing Church's position. Apparently, the Chicago Cubs have shown interest in Church since last winter, but Nats GM Jim Bowden wants a high price for Church. Church had been in something of a slump, having had a hot spring, but not having hit a homerun in many weeks. Kearns, too, had been in a slump, and it was nice to see him swing the bat so well, seemingly back on the proper hitting track.

Brian Schneider and Dmitri Young both had hot bats for the Nats, each going 2 for 4 with Schneider having 2 R.B.I.'s. Schneider, too, has been in something of an offensive slump of late, but seems to be emerging from it. He's certainly not an easy out, but he's finding the gaps now. So great to see him happy and hitting.

Now the bullpen is fully rested and ready for today's day/night doubleheader, the 12:10 makeup game from a spring rainout, with Tim Redding starting, and the evening's game at 7:10 with fresh-from-Columbus callup Joel Hanrahan making his major league debut.

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