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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nats vs. Braves - the weekend roundup

The Washington Nationals took only the Sunday game from their weekend series in Atlanta against the Braves, but there was much for a Nats fan to be interested in.

Game 1 - Friday, September 7th: Braves 7, Nationals 1

This is a game that I'd just as soon forget. The big story was, that Atlanta starter (and dead-lock 1st ballot future Hall-of-Famer) John Smoltz almost threw a no-hitter, and he dominated the Nats like he hasn't done in their 3 seasons of existence. This came to an end in the 8th inning as Ronnie Belliard blooped a single to right field. Ryan Church, in a pinch-hitting role, drove Belliard in to prevent a shut-out. Those were the only 2 Nats hits of the entire game.

Sloppy play was evident, but I don't want to take away from the accomplishments of John Smoltz. He created some havoc on the mound.

Nats starter Joel Hanrahan didn't have a good game, allowing 5 runs (4 earned) on 4 hits, striking out 3 but walking 4. Chalk it up to rookie growing pains and the Braves getting September tough.

Ross Detwiler made his major-league debut, but unfortunately, it was in what I call "garbage time". The Nats were getting killed, and a rally didn't appear imminent, but the one advantage for Detweiler was, there really wasn't any pressure upon him at that point to do anything but get some batters out, which he did. He didn't need to "hold" or "save" or anything else, just throw first-pitch strikes and retire batters. He allowed no hits, no runs and struck out one.
Detwiler became the first player selected in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft to play in a major league game so far this season. Happily for Detwiler, the first batter he faced was Andruw Jones, who grounded out. Thus, in one at-bat, you glimpse some of the greatness of the Braves past, and hopefully some of the greatness of the Nationals future.

Ryan Report: Let the record show that it was Church who prevented the embarrassing shutout. Oh, and Ryan Zimmerman made some unfortunate errors.

The box score for the curious.

Game 2 - Saturday, September 8th: Braves 9, Nationals 2

More sloppy play, and another night where the wheels fell off of the Nats victory bus early.
Really not much of a game, from a Nats fans standpoint.

Starter Matt Chico didn't have his best game, allowing 6 runs on 6 hits and walking 1, but he did strike out 5. He only lasted 5 innings, however. He's been better, but he's also been worse.

Ronnie Belliard had a 2-run homer to prevent a shut-out. He gets my vote for the Most Valuable National Player of the weekend series.

Ryan Report: Church had the night off,
Zimmerman went 0 for 4, Langerhanswnet 1 for 1 in a pinch-hitting role, with a triple. Austin Ryan Kearns went 1 for 4.

All in all, another forgettable road game.

The box score for anyone interested.

Game 3 - Sunday, September 9th: Nationals 7, Braves 4

Well, this was much more like it. No errors today, and some offensive spark.

Nats starter Jason Bergmann got a nice win, another quality start, going 6 innings and allowing 3 runs on 4 hits, striking out 6 and walking 2. He threw 54 strikes on 87 pitches (62%).

The bullpen of Luis Ayala, Arnie Muñoz, Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero held the Braves very well, with Cordero notching his 32nd save.

Ryan Report: Let the record show that Church's 3-run homer sparked the rally to victory, and he went 1 for 4. Zimmerman went 1 for 5 with a homer, Langerhans went 1 for 1 and stole a base, too, and Austin Ryan Kearns went 1 for 5 with a double.

Big hits came from D'Angelo Jimenez (3 for 5 with 3 R.B.I's and a double), Ronnie Belliard (1 for 4), Dmitri Young (2 for 2, and walked twice, with a double), Wily Mo Peña (1 for 5), Jésus Flores (1 for 3 and walked twice), and Robert Fick (1 for 2).

So the Nats saved some face and avoided a disgraceful sweep, while they left Atlanta behind.
A disappointing weekend, but at least they ended it on a high note.

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