The story hasn't changed much. Nats pitching does well giving up 11 runs (9 earned) in 3 games. The offense stinks scoring 10 runs (9 earned) in 3 games. This will be the song and dance at least until Morse comes back (probably as a DH in early June interleague games) to see if that makes a difference. In the meantime they try to hold onto first from the Braves and the ... Mets? First place is still secure.
But it almost wasn't.The Nats weren't too far from being swept by a Pirates team that would have trouble scoring in some sort of situation where scoring is very easy. However, they managed to hit 3 bombs for the second time in a couple weeks (last time before that was Sept 11th of last year) and came away with the 4-2 win. Now they head over to Cincinnati and a pretty decent Reds team.
The first game will be Gio vs Mike Leake. Leake hasn't pitched well this year and is susceptible to the long ball. Could we finally see Bryce's first Major League homer tonight? I'll go ahead and call it, what the hell. On the other hand, I said earlier in the season that the Reds like to hit lefties and while it hasn't shown up much so far, given the bandbox they play in and Gio's luck having to change at some point, I think this is the game he gives up a couple of bombs. Still think the Nats pull it out - maybe in a barnburner. Then we got Zimmermann vs Latos. Latos has been pitching much better recently, though facing the Pirates should help anyone. ZNN was shaky in his last outing but still pretty decent. Given the team's hatred of scoring runs for ZNN - I see this as a 2-1, 3-2 loss. The last game is Jackson vs Arroyo. Arroyo also has been good recently and Jackson was a bit shaky last two games, getting hit a bunch vs the D-backs and giving up the long ball vs the Pirates. I'd go with the Reds in this one too. The Nats need 2 wins to match expectations heading into the road trip. I'm not sure they'll get it. I'd put money on 1-2 over 2-1. A 2-4 road trip? Disappointing, but they'll happen even to the best teams.
Luckily for the Nats the guys on their heels don't have an easy weekend either. The Braves are playing the Cardinals, while the Mets take on the turning-it-around Marlins. It's quite likely that even with a 1-2 weekend the Nats will head home to take on the lowly Padres still in first. Which means they should get to Thursday of next week in first as well.
Some other notes :
The last couple of weeks have featured some shaky appearances
from H-Rod and a bad innings eating try by Ryan Perry, but the rest of
the bullpen has been as good as it's been all year. In their last 21 IP,
Burnett, Clippard, Stammen, Gorzelanny and Mattheus have given up 2
Let's hope Bryce does get that homer tonight. Since that 3-4 night, the kid is hitting .200 and while he's shown the ability to hit laser beams, he still hasn't crushed one deep. A bad weekend and he might be fitting into the Nats lineup in the wrong way. I don't doubt he can keep that average in the .280-.290 range, but I'm curious to see if his power will come around this year or will Nats fans have to wait until 2013. No one can deny that he can get on base, though, so he'll have all the time he needs one way or another.
LaRoche hasn't cooled down yet; 4-8 with 4 walks and 2 homers since coming back. Given Bryce's way working himself on base maybe we should see Bryce-LaRoche-Zimm 2-3-4? Eh, probably not. Managers hate moving what's working and LaRoche in clean-up is working.
Blog Notes :
Marc Gunther hit me up on Twitter to ask for a way to subscribe to the blog by email. So I went ahead and took the 2 minutes to figure out how to do that and it's now on the bottom of the column on the right.
Commenter Barney asked for good baseball team blogs the other day. I admit I don't read many other blogs, even about the Nats so I didn't have much to say. If there are any you like in particular feel free to share in the comments.