August 28, 2006
There was another fleeting glimmer of hope for the Washington team in Atlanta Friday night, as Austin Kearns' 3-run homer in the seventh inning provided the needed margin of victory. Reliever Saul Rivera almost blew the save, allowing two runs in the ninth inning, but all that counts is the final result. That 7-6 win was overshadowed, however, by two huge defeats inflicted by the Braves over the weekend: 10-1 on Saturday and 13-6 on Sunday. Both games were almost too painful to watch. The only bright spot was the Alfonso Soriano went 4 or 5, and stole two bases. He is almost sure to get 40 homers and 40 stolen bases this year, a very rare feat. The Nats have won only two of their last ten games, and now have a 55-75 record for the season, a distressing 6.5 games behind the fourth-place Braves.
Today the Nats get a day off (their second in five days) and prepare to welcome the Phillies to RFK Stadium once again. Let's just hope Nick Johnson's mild case of whiplash heals quickly. Jeff Francouer ran right into him without looking after hitting a pop fly in the Friday game. Also, Alex Escobar hurt his shoulder and may be out for the rest of the season.
Bruce Orser brought to my attention an intriguing article in Gentleman's Quarterly, reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch. It's about a group of scientists who administered the same battery of eye-coordination and muscle-response tests to Albert Pujols as another researcher had administered to Babe Ruth in 1921: "while the comparison has limitations, his results were strikingly similar to the Babe's." The original article, "Why Babe Ruth is Greatest Home-Run Hitter," by Hugh S. Fullerton (reproduced at York University of Toronto), concluded that The Babe's phenomenal perceptual abilities accounted for much of his slugging success. It's like those guys are bionic or something!