In game one (5-2 Nats), Odalis Perez threw 7 and 1/3 innings, scattering 3 hits and allowing a single run. If he had done this last week, the game would have been pitched by the likes of Clippard/Mock/Zimmermann, as Perez would be in a different uniform by now. It did raise his value, I'm sure (beleive it or not, he has a 4.16 ERA), as many contenders could use a cheap solid lefty starter signed only through this year.
In game two (10-6 Nats), the Nats tagged their former teammates Bill Bray and Gary Majewski for 1 and 2 runs, respectively. Bray let in one inheirited runner whereas Majewski allowed 3, so 7 of the 10 runs were either scored while the two were on the mound or by runners that reached base against the two. Millz with Thrillz and Belliard both hit homers while Emilio "Bad to the" Bonifacio had a double and a triple. While watching this game, I came to realize that this team, no matter how bad it was, is now really really exciting. Bonifacio, Harris, Milledge, Dukes and Gonzalez all have great speed and can make things happen, and the double play combination of Emilio and Alberto seems to produce at least one web gem per game. Combine this with timely hitting from Flores and Kearns (and Zimmerman when he returns) and you have a decent ballclub. And don't look now, but Ayala threw his third straight shutout inning. Just sayin'.
In game three (4-2 Nats), rookie Collin Balester tossed his second straight solid outing, going 5 and 1/3 innings while only allowing 1 run on 6 hits. Balester now has 10 strikeouts against only 2 walks in his last two starts (totalling 11 and 1/3 innings) and topped 100 pitches for only the second time this year. Bonifacio had another 2 hits, raising his average from .167 to .280 in the series while Milledge hit another blast (and went 1/2 in stolen bases). Kearns had his second straight 3 hit game and is now hitting .293/.355/.414 since returning from the DL a month ago.
The bullpen was awesome this weekend, throwing 8 and 1/3 innings and only allowing 2 runs (both by Hanrahan). I wouldn't worry, though. Hanrahan allowed one run in a non-save situation on Friday and another with a 3-run lead on Sunday. He'll be fine.
And on another note, this is certainly something I'm happy to hear:
Ever since the Trade Deadline, when Washington released its veterans and acquired shortstop Alberto Gonzalez, the Nationals have been playing with a windfall of energy and a renewed sense of enthusiasm.Notice that it's the energy of the new guys that gets the credit, not the good pickups by Bowden or bood hitting strategy compiled by Lenny. They probably have till the rest of the season to plead their respective cases. If the next two months go like this, they could be retained (notice the groans from bloggers everywhere...but read this and see why Bowden won't be back...two words: economic irresponsibility). Be carefully optimistic, though, because the Old Nats started the season 3-0 also.
They picked up their first home three-game sweep of the season on Sunday, scoring 19 runs, while allowing just nine, and hitting .330 -- well above their season average of .240
Pete Orr talked about the change after Saturday's come-from-behind 10-6 win, saying that the Nationals are feeding off one another.
"If you don't get excited watching the last two games, then you're not a baseball fan," Orr said.
Orr added that the hustle of Gonzalez and new double-play partner Emilio Bonifacio -- recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Friday -- is starting to rub off on teammates.
"Everything carries over," Orr said. "You watch those guys play, you get excited, and when you get a chance to do something, you want to do it, too."