June 2, 2009
After getting swept once again this past weekend, as the Philadelphia Phillies bested them by small margins three days in a row, the Washington Nationals were in desperate need of something to lift their spirits as they begin a home stand. (Same goes for their fans! ) Hopes were dim as they faced the San Francisco Giants' best pitcher Tim Lincecum this evening, but the Nationals batters got enough hits to make it a close game. Typically, they wasted a run-scoring opportunity in the seventh inning. Then in the eighth inning the guys in the bottom of the lineup sparked a rally that ended up scoring six runs. Clutch RBI hits by Anderson Hernandez, Cristian Guzman, Ryan Zimmerman, and Elijah Dukes created a big enough cushion that even the shaky Nats bullpen could take it easy, for once. Joel Hanrahan gave up a run in the top of the ninth, but then settled down to finish the job, and the Nats won, 10-6.
Somebody had to take the fall for the miserable performance of Washington's pitching staff, and the logical victim was pitching coach Randy St. Claire. In his stead, Steve McCatty was hired. He was the pitching coach for the Nationals' farm club in Syracuse, so he already knows some of the Nats' pitchers. See MLB.com. It's ironic because St. Claire was the only member of the coaching staff who kept his job after last season. I tend to agree with those who pin the blame for the sorry state of the Nats' pitching roster on former general manager Jim Bowden. He was interviewed by WUSA-TV9's Brett Haber, and it will be interesting what old Jimbo has to say...
The month of May was anything but "merry" for the lads who play baseball in Our Nation's Capital. The Nationals won only 8 games and lost 20, their fourth-worst monthly performance. (The very worst? July 2008, when they went 5-19.) Since his 30-game hitting streak ended, Ryan Zimmerman's batting average has fallen from about .360 to about .320, and Cristian Guzman has had a similar cold streak. See the newly-updated Washington Nationals page.
The Nats' promising young catcher Jesus Flores caught a real bad break a couple weeks ago, when his shoulder got dinged by a ricocheted ball. He was put on the DL, and most of us figured he'd be back soon. How bad could it be? Well, the latest report is that he has a stress fracture in his right shoulder, so he won't be playing for at least three more months, which means he's probably out for the season. See MLB.com. Ouch!