June 5, 2006 [LINK]

Nationals get first sweep of year

Rebounding nicely from that "bump in the road" in Philadelphia, the Nationals defeated the Brewers in three straight games in Milwaukee, thereby earning their first sweep of the 2006 season. Alfonso Soriano hit two more home runs, one of which was a grand slam, and is closing in on the injured Alberto Pujols. Now the red-hot Nats take on the ice-cold Braves in Atlanta, and Livan Hernandez will be taking the mound.

The baseball draft begins tomorrow, which will be an especially important as the new owners try to rebuild the bare-bones Nationals franchise. Will the Nats get as lucky as they did when they picked up Ryan Zimmerman last year? See MLB.com. Brian Schneider was the hero in the Nats' 4-3 win over the Brewers on Saturday, hitting a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning. Rookie reliever Bill Bray was credited with the win, even though he threw only one pitch: Schneider threw out a runner attempting to steal second base to end the eighth inning. Nostalgia time: It was exactly one year ago that the Nationals were in the middle of a ten-game winning streak that launched them into first place in the NL East.

Braves in a slump

Thanks to the Diamondbacks, the Braves were swept in a four-game home series for the first time since they moved into Turner Field. Ouch! To me, the Braves' recent string of losses is puzzling, because Edgar Renteria, Jeff Francouer, Adam LaRoche, and Brian McCann had established themselves as very worthy replacements to former Braves stars who were traded away or let go. Francouer is especially impressive (see MLB.com), while Wilson Betemit continues to provide reliable clutch hitting as a pinch hitter.