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9/27/07 A Week In The Life Of "The Double Machine."

     When Washington began the first of four games with Philadelphia in the last home series of the 2007 season last Thursday in RFK, Ryan Church was inserted in the starting lineup in center and batting fifth in the Nationals order against Phillies right-hander Kyle Lohse.

     Church had homered in his last at bat, three days earlier against New York reliever Joe Smith, in a seventh inning pinch hit appearance before sitting out the final two games of the series with the Mets. Church entered the start against Lohse and the Phillies batting .266 with 38 doubles and 14 home runs and 62 RBI's.

     Church walked in his first at bat, and hit an RBI double, his 39th of the season off Lohse in the second to get the Nationals out to an early 6-2 lead. Church hit a ground-rule double on a one-hop shot to right in his third at bat against Kane Davis for his 40th two-bagger of the season in the fifth, but nothing came of it, and Church was replaced by pinch runner Nook Logan after walking in the seventh to end the game, which Washington lost, with a .269 AVG, 40 doubles, 14 HR's and RBI's 64 RBI's.

     Church went 0-3 with a walk on Friday night with 5 runners left on base against Philly starter Adam Eaton and reliever Geoff Geary. 2 for 4 Saturday night with two unproductive singles against Kyle Kendrick, Church and the Nationals lost their third straight to the Phillies 4-1 on Saturday and Church's numbers stood at .269, 40, 14 and 64 heading into Sunday's RFK sendoff celebration.

     Ryan Church ground into a bases loaded double play in the sixth inning of Sunday's win over Philadelphia before making the trip to Queens, NY where the Nationals were set to play the last three games of the season against the hated rivals, the Mets.

     Against Mike Pelfrey and the Mets, Church went 2 for 4 on Monday night in Shea, with one double each off Pelfrey and reliever Guillermo Mota, numbers 41 and 42 on the year, which brought home two RBI's to leave Church at .271, with 42 doubles, 14 home runs, and 66 RBI's on the season.

     After sitting out Tuesday's Nationals win against left-handed starter Tom Glavine, Church took center field again on Wednesday against debuting starter right-hander Philip Humber and the Amazin'-Collapsin'-Mets.

     Church singled to left off Humber in his first at bat in the top of the second, and took Humber deep in the fourth on a two-run, line-drive home run to right that got the Nationals offense going as they came back against the Mets. Church went down swinging against Mets reliever Pedro Feliciano with two on and no out in the fifth, and Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez got Church swinging again in the seventh...

     ...But the "Double Machine" struck again in the ninth as Ryan Church scored the eigth and ninth runs of the night to go 3 for 5 with 4 RBI's in a 9-6 win that finished a three game sweep of the Mets and left the Nationals left-handed hard-hitter batting .275 with 15 HR's, 43 doubles, and 70 RBI's.

     On Thursday night, Ryan Church rested.

     There are three left with Philadelphia starting with Cole Hamels on the mound Friday. Church is 2 for 14 in his career aginst Philly's lanky left-hander, and will thus most likely not start the first game, as he's batting only .231 against lefties this year, as opposed to .289 against right-handers so far. Adam Eaton starts Friday night but it's a lefty again when Jamie Moyer starts Sunday's season finale.

     How much more will we see of Church? Probably only late in the games tomorrow and Sunday when Washington gets into the Phillies bullpen, and Saturday afternoon he should start in the afternoon tilt, which yours truly might be shut out of as Fox's national broadcast might opt for the game with the biggest Playoff implications.

     Church has played in 41 more games in the 2007 campaign than he did in any of his other Major League seasons, taken 198 more at bats, hit 26 more doubles, 5 more HR's, scored 16 more runs, and knocked in 28 more RBI's than in any of his previous 2 and 1/4 years in the Bigs.

     Wait...Is this a contract year for Church?...