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IT WAS ONLY O-N-E GAME

[September 8th] -- I didn't see all of last night's game - I had a choice of watching the entire game or being treated to a steak dinner with my wife and daughter at the Texas Roadhouse.

I couldn't care less about the loss, other than to remind the Nationals that now is not the time to embarrass themselves (and us) by laying down over the last few weeks of the season. That said, I don't think that's what happened in Atlanta; it was more like a market correction, the "real world" reminding us that the Nationals are struggling to win 70 games this year. To win 70 games means by default you have to lose 92.

Well, it was a market correction and running into John Smoltz at his best.

Prior to baseball returning to Washington, I was a Braves fan and watched him pitch hundreds of times.

I never saw him better. His pitches were zipping and dipping as the Nationals' bats seemed unable to connect with the ball. It kind of reminded me of that Ray Milland baseball movie, the one where he played a college professor who developed a liquid he rubbed into the baseball that repelled wood. Hmmm. I wonder if Smoltz knew Ray Milland?

Good for John Smoltz. He's a great guy and if someone had to embarrass the Nationals, I'm glad it was him. Now, if it was Buddy Carlyle ....

I am very glad that Ryan Zimmerman is having his difficulties this year. If he's going to struggle, let him struggle at a time in his career where it doesn't matter in the least. There is no question that the 22 year-old is embarrassed by his defense this year and will likely work this off-season to correct the flaw. But looking at the big picture, there is no question that Zimmerman's defense - his poor throws not withstanding - is still stellar. I have listened to many of the opposing team's broadcasters talk about Ryan's errors this season, and to a man, they have all suggested that this is an anomaly, that he's just too superb a defensive player to continue throwing the ball away at this rate. And so what if he struck out four times last night? He'll probably whack a couple of homers this weekend and no one will care.

One thing that I did miss while pushing my stomach's elasticity to its limits was the debut of little Rossy Detwiler. Detwiler got his first taste of "the bigs" when he pitched a 1-2-3 8th inning. A nice beginning, though you'd think that the Braves' players were probably in a the-game's-over-let's-go-home mode. It'll be interesting to see how quickly Detwiler returns to Washington next year. My vote? Sometime just after the All-Star game.

Oh boy, what to do about Joel Hanrahan? Two games ago, he couldn't find home plate and got destroyed by the Rockies. In his last game, he was light's out and showed the Nationals' brass that he belonged in the rotation. Now, he's back to not being able to find the plate again. In 3.1 innings, Hanrahan allowed four earned runs on four hits and four walks. He had a problem with his location in the minor leagues, and it looks like it's going to continue here.


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