Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Eight More Reasons to Feel Good About the Nats

In a way, it's a little harder to find optimism in yesterday's 4-1 defeat to Atlanta than it was to find it in last week's massacre at the hands of the Tigers. While that game against Detroit could be chalked up to a complete fluke with no long-term implications, yesterday's game, while perhaps not significant in itself (other than it was a loss against a team that had shown itself completely incapable of scoring recently), was accompanied by grim news regarding Christian Guzman's seemingly innocuous thumb injury (regular long-time readers should already be familiar with the nature of these things). There was also lurking the specter of Shawn Hill travelling south to see a specialist about his tendons, a meeting that could potentially have meant more surgery and an extremely extended period of absence.

The news on Hill has, of course, since turned out to be positive, but there still is the loss of our resurgent Guzzy and the slightly spiritless loss yesterday. That the Brandon Watson Watch has to be re-set to 0 makes it hurt that much more. In that light, we try to find the positives from yesterday:

1. Jason Bergmann - The obvious high point. Only four innings, but only one run. Considering the little jam he found himself in during that fateful fourth inning, it could have been much worse, but he pulled himself out of it. Sure he got tired fast, but nothing indicated the bottom was dropping out of his magnificant season with the sub-3.00 ERA.

2. Billy Traber - But wait, didn't he give up the three-run homer that blew open the close game? Sure, but really that's just because of one slightly hanging curve. Until that point, he was getting that wicked little pitch past just about everyone. It's unfortunate that he had to pay such a high price for that one less-than-great pitch (and even more a shame that the ball couldn't have been hit at RFK, where it would have died a grisly death at the warning track).

3. Ronnie Belliard - He'll step in at second while Felipe moves over to cover short. While not having Guzman's .329 average in the lineup will hurt, Ronnie's no slouch. He had a nice double yesterday, and he can pick up at least some of the slack left by our would-have-been Comeback Player of the Year.

4. Brian Schneider - He went 3 for 4, including a double in the ninth when all was basically lost. His batting average is now at .251, higher than even Ryan Zimmerman.

5. Dmitri Young - Keeps getting hits. Still batting .338. No need for all-star ballot fraud here. He's a deserving candidate who should somehow make the game based on his accomplishments (perhaps a new Comeback Player of the Year?).

6. Team Resiliency - They've already shown they can be competitive with most of their starting pitching rotation down in an injured heap, now apparently they must pass the test of having one of their best hitters out (and let's not forget that Nick Johnson is still nowhere to be found in this lineup). They've come this far with bafflingly cruel injuries, so what's one more on the pile?

7. No Errors - Yes, we're recycling points from last week now, but it's still true: no errors last night. It's worth pointing out any time it happens.

8. They're not the White Sox - What the hell happened there?

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