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[September 26th] -- I'm guessing that most of us hoped that Beltran Perez would duplicate his first major league start (six innings, no runs, one hit) Monday against New York, but expected the vastly superior Mets' offense to humble him pretty early in the game.

Well, surprise.

Perez pitched another solid game, allowing just two runs on four hits over six innings. His ERA since being recalled from 'AA' Harrisburg is a sparkly 1.50. Now, to be fair, he did give up six walks. The flip side of that stat is he allowed only two of the Mets' ten base-runners to score. I'd say that's pretty impressive. Again, to be fair, Perez almost, and I'm talking a combined eight feet, gave up three more home runs. Shawn Green, Jose Reyes and David Wright hit long .... deep .... high .... balls that were caught by Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Church with their tuschy's up against the outfield fence. Flip side time: they didn't leave the yard and were just very long, very loud outs. Granted, seventeen innings isn't a realistic gage of a pitcher's ability. Remember, Mike O'Connor's first month in the big leagues made a whole lot of people think of Tom Glavine. Lately, however, those same people are thinking they were really wrong. Perez, I think, has a better chance of avoiding the kind of drop-off that O'Connor experienced this summer. O'Connor is a control pitcher -- he has to paint the black to be effective, and his fast ball comes in on an arc. Perez, on the other hand, has some gas on his fast ball and some bite on his slider. I'm not suggesting that he's a lock for the rotation next spring, but I think he's shown enough to get a long look.

Ryan Zimmerman isn't going to lose the rookie-of-the-year award because of any late-season slump. Although he only went 1-5 against the Mets, he hit his 46th double of the year and drove in runs numbers 102, 103 and 104. He has a week left to hit his 20th home run. If he does, then he's a lock for the award. If he doesn't, I still think Dan Uggla may ultimately win because of the 26 home runs. Writers are homer-fixated. That said, Mets' broadcasters Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez both cast their votes for Zimmerman, while their play-by-play guy (I didn't catch his name) thinks Russell Martin of the Dodgers is the best rookie in the league.

Brian Schneider went 4-5 and upped his once pathetic batting average to .254. Did any of you really think that he had a chance to redeem himself after coasting into late July with a batting average in the low .220s? I sure didn't. Schneider showed last year that he was a streak hitter; he went from .244 to .293 in the span of a month before finishing the season at .268.

Within each game, the Nationals continue to show glimmers of hope for not only next year, but the years to come. As Keith Hernandez said during the broadcast, "I like their offense -- it's a winning lineup. I like their bullpen. If they find some starting pitching next year, I think they will have a pretty good ballclub."

I'll settle for "pretty good" next year.

Nah -- Zim's a lock for ROY. One more home run or a few more RBI's won't make a bit a difference. Writers vote for the award, and they understand his superior defense.
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