BOTTOMFEEDER BASEBALL BLOG

Dedicated to the constructive criticism of the Washington Nationals.

ALL ARTICLES AND PICTURES UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED ARE (C) DAVID W. NICHOLS

E-mail us at: natsnewsnetwork@gmail.com

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Three Home Runs Do In Nats Against Mets

Queens, New York--An 0-2 pitch from Washington Nationals starter Matt Chico turned a close game into another no-doubt-about-it loss at the hands of the New York Mets. Jose Reyes turned that two-strike fastball into a tie ball game and two batters later Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran hit a three-run home run to deliver a 5-2 victory to the faithful in Queens.

Chico had relatively cruised through the first four innings and the Nationals carried a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth. He had only given up three hits at that point, including former Nats' outfielder Ryan Church's solo homer in the first. But the fifth inning has given Chico fits before and it was his undoing again tonight. Reyes took an off-speed pitch for strike one and swung through another off-speed pitch for strike two, looking completely off-balance. But the third pitch of the at bat was a letter high strike that Reyes clubbed over the left field fence to tie the game.

Church followed with his second hit of the night, a hard liner to right and David Wright blooped one to center that Lastings Milledge dove for and got a glove on but couldn't bring in. That brought up Beltran, who dispatched the first offering he saw from Chico into the left field bleachers for his first home run of the young season.

Once again, the Nationals offense was almost non-existent. The team could only muster five hits despite Manager Manny Acta shuffling the batting order significantly for the first time this season. Acta moved second baseman Ronnie Belliard into the second spot, Milledge into the five hole and sliding the slumping Austin Kearns into the sixth hole. The move paid dividends early, as Kearns connected for his first home run of the season off Mets starter John Maine in the fourth inning to give the Nats their short-lived lead. But Kearns couldn't build upon that success, as he fouled out in his next at bat and grounded into a double play to end to end the eighth inning.

As has been the script thus far, the top of the order did their job getting on base. Lead-off hitter Cristian Guzman walked twice and Ronnie Belliard reached three times with two hits and a walk. But the rest of the Nats batting order could only manage three additional hits.

Chico finished with five earned runs in five innings, with seven hits, three walks and five strikeouts. Jesus Colome, Saul Rivera and Chad Cordero all threw one uneventful inning apiece. But it hardly mattered when the Nats batters could not contribute to the efforts.

The Shea finale is Thursday night at 7:10 pm, when John Lannan (0-2) faces Nelson Figueroa (1-0) making his second big league start since September 2004.

NATS NOTES: Rob Mackowiak struck out pinch hitting for Colome, extending his hitless streak to start the season at eleven at bats with five strikeouts.

Shawn Hill is tentatively schduled to start Saturday for the Nationals against Florida. Hill made a six-inning, 89-pitch rehab stint Sunday for Triple-A Columbus.

Before Wednesday's game, the Nationals demoted reliever Chris Schroder and recalled catcher Wil Nieves from Columbus. With Paul LoDuca nursing a nasty bruise on his throwing hand caused by getting hit with a pitch, the team felt it needed another receiver. Jesus Flores, who made the team out of spring training but was recently send down himself, was not a candidate to be brought back, according to team sources.

Three Home Runs Do In Nats Against Mets also posted at DC Sports Box.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Hey Dave - these games are getting tough to watch. I am confused by Chico also, was his fantastic game last week just a fluke? I hate to think that way. Maybe it has something to do with the catching. Neither Lo Duca nor Estrada saw much of the pitching staff during spring training. Its possible that they are still learning, but I sure do miss Schneider behind the plate.

I am sick of Austin Kearns. I agree putting him lower in the order would be a wise move. I hope he sits for a while once Dukes comes back, it might shake things up.

Not sure what to say about Zim. I know he's a slow starter, but he wasn't aware of his numbers thus far, and says he isn't concerned. Thats what worries me, its time to step it up.

The bench is awful, I am so sick of Mackowiak. When can we cut the cord on that one?

It's getting harder and harder to stay positive...