June 28, 2009
The heralded "Battle of the Beltway[s]" between Washington and Baltimore could just as well have been called the "Battle of the Basement Dwellers," as both the Nationals and Orioles are several games behind the fourth-place teams in their respective divisions. The Friday night game was a total embarrassment for the Nats, as their bullpen collapsed yet again, giving up eight runs in the sixth inning, as the O's won 11-1. It was the biggest margin of defeat the Nats have suffered this year. O Saturday they kept it relatively close, but wasted run-scoring opportunities once again. In this afternoon's game, John Lannan held the Orioles to only three runs in seven-plus innings. In the fourth inning, Ryan Zimmerman hit a double and Adam Dunn followed with a tape-measure home run that hit the warehouse building on one bounce. Budding outfield star Willie Harris added an insurance run with a homer in the same direction later in the game, as the Nats won 5-3, averting a sweep. See MLB.com.
The Nationals have activated starting pitcher Scott Olsen who had been on the disabled list, and to make room for him, they sent Shairon Martis to the minor league farm club in Syracuse. See MLB.com. I was stunned to learn that one of the only five-game winning pitchers has lost his job, while the least reliable relief pitcher Jesus Colome gets to keep his. What gives???
The Nationals also traded outfielder Ryan Langerhans to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for infielder Mike Morse. This seemed like an odd move to me, because the Nats have a fair amount of depth in position players, but are extremely weak in pitching. It was mainly to give Langerhans an opportunity to play in the majors; see MLB.com. The only function I can see for Morse is as an emergency backup or to provide the front office with negotiating leverage with some of the other players; for now he'll be playing in the minors.
The Cleveland Indians traded verteran utility player Mark DeRosa to the Cardinals for right-handed reliever Chris Perez and a player to be named later. Unlike other trades of recent years (C.C. Sabathia comes to mind), this deal "brought the Indians an immediate Major League return, rather than a batch of prospects." See MLB.com. I saw DeRosa play when he was with the Richmond Braves in 1999, before he was called up to play with the Atlanta Braves. Over the years he has earned a reputation as a valuable team player, and he is steadily improving as a batter, with 13 home runs so far this year.