Today's Top 5:
5. Oswalt Day: Don't try telling a Washington Nationals fan that their team isn't good enough for Roy Oswalt, who says he wants to throw for a contender if he's going to leave Houston, and even then he only wants to do it to help the team rebuild, but as New York Times' writer Tyler Kepner pointed out yesterday in a Sunday New York Times' article entitled, "Growing Impatient With Astros, Their Ace Asks Out", 'Stros owner Drayton McLane loves him so Oswalt, "McLane adores Oswalt and could resist trading him, no matter how bleak the outlook." The Nats have been linked, via rumor alone, to Oswalt for several weeks, it would be quite an investment if they actually were able to pull the trigger...A wise one? Not so sure...
4. Oswalt Lit Up And Tossed!!!: Adam Dunn hits a three-run double off Houston right-hander Roy Oswalt, and in the next at bat, Oswalt misses outside with a fastball to Josh Willingham that he thinks is a strike, and three inning's worth of frustration with the strike zone boils up for Oswalt who barks at the home plate Umpire about his role in the pitcher's struggles today and gets himself tossed for showing up the official. The Astros' ace throws just 58 pitches, 33 for strikes, and the 32-year-old right-hander surrenders 4 hits, 4 walks and 3 ER in 2.1 IP before he's sent to the showers...
3. Nyjer "Two-Spot" Morgan: Bringing The Butcher Boy Back!! Not really a butcher boy, since he didn't pull back and swing, it's more like a literal swinging bunt. Nyjer Morgan squares to bunt as he leads off the fifth and just leaves the bat out as he swings and connects for a hit that falls into short right for a single. Having lost the overall leadoff spot with his recent spotty play, Morgan responds by going 3 for 4 with a walk, sac bunt and 4 runs scored.
2. Luis Atilano's Effort: After giving up a leadoff walk and single to the first two batters he faces, Luis Atilano gets Lance Berkman looking and the Nats' catcher Carlos Maldonado throws Jeff Keppinger (who had singled after the leadoff walk) out at second on a double steal attempt by the Astros. Two down, runner on third, and El Caballo Carlos Lee fouls off two 2-2 pitches and sends a sinker to center for a two-out RBI single that ties it at 1-1 after one. After the Nats take a 4-1 lead in the third, Atilano gives up a fluke HR to Astros reliever Gustavo Chacin to make it 4-2, then holds the Astros of the board through six as the Nats get out to a 5-2 lead. Atilano gives up two more runs (one earned) in the seventh, after the Nats score nine in the top of the frame, and Atilano's day ends after 103 pitches, 65 strikes, 8 groundouts, 9 flyouts, 6 hits, 2 walks and 4 runs, 3 earned as he records his 5th win (5-1).
1. Maldonado Goes Yard!! Called upon to fill in for the injured Pudge Rodriguez, the 31-year-old catcher, Carlos Maldonado, takes a hanging slider from Chris Sampson into the Crawford Boxes in left for a 3-run blast in the seventh that puts Washington up 11-2. The HR is Maldonado's first since he hit one off Brett Tomko, then a Pirate, in a game back on September 20, 2007. Later that inning, after Maldonado's 3rd career HR, Ryan Zimmerman hits his own 3-run blast, his third in two games. 14-2 Nationals. The Nats put together a 9-run ninth, which Washington Post reporter Adam Kilgore reports via Twitter (@adamkilgoreWP), "...is the biggest #Nats inning since baseball returned to D.C." Let's GO Nats GO!!!!
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• Final Score: Nats 14, Astros 4.
FULL GAME REPORT:
1 - Cristian Guzman's leading off and he doubles to the left-center gap off 'Stros starter Roy Oswalt on the second pitch of the game. Nyjer Morgan gets the bunt down to move Guzman to third. Ryan Zimmerman goes the other way to the track in right, Hunter Pence makes the grab, Guzman tags and scores, 1-0 Nats. Adam Dunn K's swinging, as he's wont to...Leadoff walk to Michael Bourn. Jeff Keppinger gets a single through the infield into right, Bourn stops at second. Luis Atilano gets Lance Berkman looking with a fastball down the pipe then Carlos Maldonado throws Keppinger out at second on the double steal. El Caballo up with Bourn on third. Carlos Lee gets a single deep enough up the middle that Guzman can't make the throw, Bourn scores as Guzman's throw rolls to Dunn, 1-1. Willie Harris gets under an inning-ending fly from Hunter Pence.
2 - Josh Willingham K's swinging for the first out of the second. WIllie Harris walks with one down. Ian Desmond's up against Roy Oswalt and he K's looking, twice, the second one the Ump gets it right. Carlos Maldonado flies out to Hunter Pence in right to end the Nats' second...Pedro Feliz grounds out to third, Zimmerman makes the play. Tommy Manzella flies out to Willie Harris in right. Humberto Quintero tests Guzman's backhand, but he's up for it.
3 - Luis Atilano grounds out to second. Cristian Guzman sneaks a single through short by a diving Tommy Manzella. Nyjer Morgan rips a line drive to right to move Guzman to third. First and third for Zimmerman. Nyjer Morgan swipes second. Zimmerman walks, Dunn up with the bases loaded, one down. Long fly ball to right center and off the wall, a 3-run double for Dunn and it's 4-1 Nationals in the third. Oswalt doesn't get a strike on a fastball outside to Willingham and he loses it, getting himself tossed in the process after visibly reacting to several calls earlier in the game. Gustavo Chacin up for Houston. Josh Willingham walks. Willie Harris pops to short. Desmond flies to Bourn in center. 4-1 Nats in the third...Gustavo Chacin gets under a fastball from Atilano and lifts it to right and just inside the pole, GONE. 1st big league hit, first HR. 4-2 Nats. Michael Bourn grounds out to second. Jeff Keppinger grounds out to Ryan Zimmerman, two down. Lance Berkman pops up to Zim to end a long third.
4 - Carlos Maldonado grounds out to Manzella at short. Atilano up, and he flies out to El Caballo in left. The Guz, Cristian Guzman grounds to Tommy Manzella at short to end the Nats' fourth...El Caballo, Carlos Lee grounds out to Zim at third. Hunter Pence pops up to Zim foul of third. Back-to-back two-out singles for Pedro Feliz and Tommy Manzella, but Luis Atilano pops Humberto Quintero up and it's 4-2 Nats after four.
5 - Nyjer Morgan starts the fifth with a bunting-line-drive? to right for a single. Ryan Zimmerman works a walk out of Chacin. Adam Dunn pops out to left unproductively. Nyjer Morgan swipes third with Willingham up. Hammer lines to right and it drops in front of Pence. Nyjer Morgan scores, 5-2 Nats. Willie Harris flies out to center. Two down. Ian Desmond grounds to third to end the Nats' fifth...Cory Sullivan hits for Chacin, or more accurately grounds out to Guzman at second. Michael Bourn grounds sharply to Zim, who throws him out. Jeff Keppinger rips a line drive to Zimmerman! 5-2 Nats after five.
6 - Carlos Maldonado grounds out to Feliz at third, Luis Atilano does the same and 'Stros' reliever Jeff Fulchino has two quick outs. Cristian Guzman takes a 2-2 fastball up high for a called strike three, 5-2 Nats middle of the sixth...Luis Atilano walks Lance Berkman to start the Astros' sixth. Riggleman out to talk. El Caballo pops out to Dunn at first. Hunter Pence flies out to Morgan, two down. Pedro Feliz flies out to Josh WIllingham in left and it's 5-2 Nats after six innings.
7 - Nyjer Morgan takes ball four and walks to start the seventh. Ryan Zimmerman doubles to center, Michael Bourn cuts it off. Morgan to third. Adam Dunn grounds to first, Berkman fields and thinks about home, but goes to first, no one's covering, Dunn safe, Morgan scores, 6-2 Nats. Josh Willingham walks to load the bases. WIllie Harris up, and he goes down swinging, one down. Ian Desmond shoots a line drive single to right, two runs score, and Desmond gets hit with the throw in, allowing him to take second, 8-2 Nats!! Chris Sampson on for Houston, and he hangs a slider up for Carlos Maldonado, who clears the left field wall for a three-run HR and an 11-2 Nats' lead. Nyjer Morgan singles to right. Ryan Zimmerman up with two on, and he goes deeep to right and into the bullpen!! 3-run blast, 14-2 Nationals. Adam Dunn grounds out to second, 14-2 Nats in the seventh...Tommy Manzella grounds out, Humberto Quintero grounds out, two down. Atilano hits Jason Michaels, and Michael Bourn follows with an RBI triple to make it 14-3 Washington. Jeff Keppinger sends a low lob to first, and Adam Kennedy misplays it, Bourn scores, Keppinger safe, 14-4 Nats. Atilano's done. Tyler Walker takes over. Keppinger takes second. Lance Berkman flies to center to end the 7th.
8 - Josh Willingham lines to right-center for a leadoff single. Astros' righty Tim Byrdak gets Willie Harris to pop out to the infield. Ian Desmond goes down swinging. Maldonado does too, 14-4 Nats in the eighth...Tyler Walker vs El Caballo. Grounder to short, Desmond gets there and makes the play. Alberto Gonzalez throws out Hunter Pence. Two down. Pedro Feliz singles up the middle. Tyler Walker walks Tommy Manzella. Humberto Quintero grounds back to the mound, 14-4 Nats after eight.
9 - Alberto Gonzalez vs Wilton Lopez to start the ninth. Gonzalez K's swinging. Cristian Guzman grounds out to short, two down quickly. Nyjer Morgan grounds back to the mound, 14-4 after eight and a half...Nyjer Morgan gets under the first out from Jason Michaels. Geoff Blum pops out to short. Jeff Keppinger walks with two down. Lance Berkman K's swinging and it's 14-4 Nats when it ends.
Nationals now 26-26.