The Washington Nationals swept a double-header against the Philadelphia Phillies Tuesday and Nationals fans can’t help but gloat a little. The Nats won the first game 4-3 in 10 innings, then shut out the Phillies in the nightcap by a score of 3-0.
Of course, all the Phillies fans I know have already come up with a bunch of excuses – “They didn’t have their best players out there!” (apparently Victorino, Utley and Rollins are not the best the Phillies have); “They already clinched their division, so who cares?”; and “Cliff Lee is just saving his good stuff for the playoffs!” Even Phillies’ manager, Charlie Manuel, had excuses: “It’s not like you’re not trying, but it’s a long season and you just accomplished something. And whether you realize it, you’re not really focused and not really up into it.”
I’ve never been in the same position as the Phillies, where I’ve already clinched my division so I can just cruise through the rest of the season without caring. But if I made millions of dollars a year and played a kids’ game in front of sold-out crowds, I’d like to think that my parents raised me right and I would give it my all whether it was game number 162 of the season or the seventh game of the World Series. Yes, it’s a long season, and yes, a lot of Phillies players were playing hurt (like Hunter Pence, who played despite limping with patellar tendonitis), but playing half-heartedly should not be an option.
But whether the Phillies were just going through the motions or they were really playing to win, the Nationals had a lot of bright spots during both games. Danny Espinosa hit his 20th HR, making him only the third player in Expos/Nationals history to reach 20 HR during his rookie season. I believe he’s also leading the Majors in being hit by the most pitches, but at least it’s gotten him on base a lot!
Also a highlight Tuesday was Nationals relief pitcher, Drew Storen, who got his 40th SV after the nightcap; a big achievement for the 24-year-old. Watch out, Mariano Rivera – Storen is right behind you!
And how about Ross Detwiler? The young lefty pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed only three hits (one to Ben Francisco and two to Placido Polanco). This was Detwiler’s longest outing of the year, and Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson was very impressed with the young southpaw.
The Nationals have a six-game road winning streak, which they hope conitinues after tonight’s game. It will feature inconsistent lefty John Lannan pitching against the NL Rookie of the Year candidate Vance Worley (who is 11-2 with a 2.85 ERA). It’s a complete toss-up trying to predict who will win that one; good thing I’m not a bettin’ woman!
Some might say the Nationals are suddenly hot; others might say it’s too little too late, but I say it’s proof that this team has grown during this season. The callups have adjusted well, and the team has a bright future ahead of them. Bring on the 2012 season!
About the Author
Written by Marien Hornyak
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico but have lived in the continental US for 22 years. I have a BS in Athletic Training and a MEd in Sport Management, where I did my thesis on "The History of Baseball Litigation." I am a wife, mother of 2, and self-proclaimed "Baseball Nerd." My favorite baseball players include Roberto Clemente, Kirby Puckett, and Iván Rodriguez.