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From the Beltway to the City of Brotherly Love

Posted By Marien Hornyak On May 21 2012 @ 11:24 am In Washington Nationals | No Comments

[1]If you didn’t get to watch any of the Nationals-Orioles games this weekend, you missed a lot of good baseball.  The Orioles took the first two games 2-1 and 6-5, with the Nationals winning Sunday’s game 9-3.  Highlights from the weekend included Stephen Strasburg and Jesús Flores hitting their first home runs of the season, solid pitching performances from Friday’s starters (Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta), and an 11th inning home run by Nick Markakis to win it for the Orioles on Friday night. 

After struggling offensively on Friday, Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson shook up his lineup and got positive results from it.  Leadoff hitter Ian Desmond was moved to the fifth spot and second baseman Danny Espinosa was put in the leadoff spot, which helped him go 2 for 5 on Sunday.  I know that Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo has always wanted a solid batter at leadoff, but I don’t know if Espinosa is the answer.  Even though he has improved in the past few weeks, he still strikes out a LOT.  Neither Rizzo nor Johnson has asked me, but if they did, I would suggest putting outfielder Bryce Harper at the leadoff spot.  Harper nay also not be an ideal candidate, since he still has a lot of maturing to do, but he’s developing patience at the place and does not mind drawing the occasional walk.  He’s pretty fast too, even though his running form is a bit unorthodox. [2]

The Nationals are on their way to Philadelphia to start a three-game series against the .500 Phillies, and it should be a heated and contentious series.  The Nationals took 2 of 3 from the Phillies earlier this month when the Phillies visited Nationals Park, which included the game where Harper was intentionally hit by Phillies’ pitcher Cole Hamels.  Can you imagine the boos that Harper would get from Philly fans if they put him in the leadoff spot?  Bryce seems like the type of player who would feed off that though; he could draw the energy from the crowd and smack an extra-base hit right off the bat (or of course, he could strike out, which would be very embarrassing!).

[3]And what’s all the buzz about Stephen Strasburg’s arm soreness?  According to him, it’s no biggie – he just felt some tightness during yesterday’s outing.  No pain – just tightness, which should not cause him to miss his next start.  He went 2 for 2 in yesterday’s game, which included his first career home run, so whatever “tightness” he had did not affect him when swinging a bat.  He’s so fickle on the mound though; if the conditions aren’t perfect and he’s not completely comfortable, he doesn’t pitch well.  So let’s hope this “tightness” really is no big deal – the Nationals are getting ready to play 15 games against the other teams in the NL East (the only division where all the teams have at least a .500 record), so all five starters need to perform their best (especially if the Nats continue to hit inconsistently).  Bring on the Phillies, Braves, Marlins and Mets – these will be some exciting games to watch!

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