Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Nats Juice Up @ Minute Maid

The Washington Nationals came off of a very disappointing home stand, losing five out of six games to the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets. In spite of adding some much needed power in Wily Mo Peña, the Nats only scored 16 runs total in those six games.

So what happens? The Nats travel to Houston's Minute Maid park and score seven runs on Monday night, including Peña's second homer in as many days as the Nats shut out the Astros 7-0. Last night, the Nats took on Wandy Rodriguez, the same pitcher who had a sparkling 1.61 ERA at home in his 12 previous starts there. For three innings, things seemed to be going just like any other Wandy start at home - one hit allowed, no runs, no walks, and three strikeouts. The Astros had taken a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on the soon-to-be-retiring Craig Biggio's 10th homer of the year. At that point, it looked like that the Nats little offensive explosion in Houston was only going to be of the one game variety... we had no warning as to what was about to transpire!

In the top of the fourth, Wandy's home "magic wand" mysteriously stopped working... Nook Logan would record the first of his FIVE consecutive hits, and Ryan Zimmerman would hit a triple to the deepest part of the park in center to knot the game. Zim would score on a Wily Mo Peña ground out to give the Nats a 2-1 lead. The Astros would quickly reassume the lead in the bottom of the frame, as Biggio and Hunter Pence would each single in runs off of Nats starter Joel Hanrahan. The Nats would pound Wandy again in the 5th. Brian Schneider doubled and Nook Logan then singled him home. Mr. Zimmerman came to the plate again and promptly belted a two-run homer to the short porch in left to give the Nats a 5-3 lead... The Nats then poured it on in the sixth. Ronnie Belliard and Schneider drew one out walks and Wandy was done for the night. Tony Batista would single in Belliard. Logan singled in Schneider and Zimmerman would single in Felipe Lopez to give the Nats an 8-3 advantage.

From there, the Nats cruised to an easy 11-6 victory. Logan's five hits would mark a new career high for him, while Zimmerman's 3-for-5, four RBI performance pushed his batting average to .271 and his RBI total to 71. Zimmerman actually had two chances to hit for the cycle (needing only a double to complete it), but he grounded out in the 7th and walked in the 9th. Hanrahan was the beneficiary of the Nats offensive outburst, going just the required five innings (giving up seven hits and three runs) to record his third victory in his past four starts. Mike Bacsik takes on Woody Williams in the series finale tonight at 8:05 ET/5:05 PT.


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