There were multiple wins and losses on Thursday, including (but not exclusively) the games in the doubleheader. The Nats earned a split with the Cards, losing in the afternoon but winning in the nightcap.
The Nats lost 6-1 in the first game to the strangely effective Todd Wellemeyer. John Lannan was okay, pitching 6 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits, but with 4 walks and 0 strikeouts. Not a good trend to start, Johnny. Flores got hit by pitch in the hand but says he's okay (and finished the game). He didn't play or pinch hit in game 2, but he was going to get the night off anyways. Strange that if both catchers were going to catch one game, they didn't let Lannan throw to his personal catcher, Nieves. But I'm sure there's an explanation somewhere. We left 11 men on base, which is pretty awful. And reading the following should make you want to punch infants and elephants alike: Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Casto; Harris; Milledge; Langerhans. 4 guys couldn't bring a runner on second or third home with 2 outs. Casto redeemed himself in game 2, but Harris, Milledge and K-angerhans are in my doghouse. I'm actually convinced game 1 never actually happened (despite watching it). There were apparently less than 1000 witnesses. Time to call Vinny Castilla and see if he's got any cousins that can erase the game from the books if you know what I mean.
Bang! Zoom! went the fireworks following Elijah Dukes' walk-off monster mash (links to the monster mash, not the actual homer...sorry, I'm childish like that) in the bottom of the 10th. The weary Washington faithful witnessed Redding give up 6 runs (including a 3 run shot to a relief pitcher. Not a homer, it was a SHOT!) to keep St. Louis in the game, Rauch blow a save and Sanches give up a solo shot in the top of the 10th to give the Cards the lead. But then Elijah Dukes (who had a killer game. Hmmm...maybe 'killer' wasn't the best choice of words) hit a 2-run walk-off bomb to dead center (again, 'dead' isn't the best word). I've been pretty impressed with Elijah lately, both in the field and at the plate. Over the last 11 games, Elijah is 11/32 (a .344 batting average) with 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1 SB, 8 R, 5 RBI and a 8/7 BB/K ratio. Not bad, dude. Also wanted to point out great nights by Guzman (4/6, 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 2B), Boone (3/4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 2B, 1 SF) and Casto (3/4, 2 RBI, 1 2B, 1 BB). GUZMANIA!!!! returns, as Guzman's batting average went from .299 to .310. A 6/11 doubleheader does that for you, I guess.
I'm still scared by this: Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Nieves 2; Lopez; Milledge; Redding; Harris 2. Sure...Boone, Casto, Guzman and Dukes all delivered somewhere in the game with 2-out RBI's (and Casto had 2), but we can't continue the trend of leaving guys in scoring position with 2 outs. 10 times over 18 innings (not even including Redding, so really 11) our batters couldn't plate guys from second or third. I'm unhappy with this.
And last but certainly not least, the first 6 rounds of the draft took place tonight. The Nats snagged 3 hitters and 3 pitchers. 3 of these guys were high schoolers (meaning they're a year younger than me, weird), 1 was a first year JuCo guy (meaning he's my age, weird) and 2 were college juniors (meaning they're only 2 years older than me, still weird). Here's their haul (do yourself a favor and head to Nationals Farm Authority to see the full scouting reports. Great work, Brian!!): RHP Aaron Crow (University of Missouri), OF Destin Hood (Alabama-HS), SS Danny Espinosa (Long Beach State), LHP Graham Hicks (Florida-HS), C Adrian Nieto (Florida-HS) and RHP Paul Demny (Blinn JC). Among these guys, I'm ecstatic about Crow, Espinosa, Hicks and Nieto. All were excellent value picks and all but Nieto are pretty projectable at this point. Crow is going to be a #1-2 starter, Espinosa comes from Shortstop U (the alma mater of Chris Gomez, Troy Tulowitzki, Bobby Crosby and Evan Longoria), Hicks is another lefty who can throw strikes (following in the footsteps of Smoker and McGeary) and Nieto was the 4th rated catcher on most boards (behind Posey, Skipworth and Castro, all high first round picks). Hood and Demny are high risk-high reward guys it's looking like, but I'm happy with the balance of predictability (4 guys) and risk/reward (2).