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Game Thread: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves- 2008 Game 21 of 162.

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On the Hill -

In John Lannan's last start against Atlanta, the second-year lefty gave up 9 hits, 6 ER, 1 HR, and 4 walks, with 2 K's in 4.0 IP of a 10-2 Washington loss in Nationals Park. Tonight, Lannan (0-2, 4.86 ERA) faces the winning pitcher in that 10-2 Nationals' loss, 40-year old future Hall of Famer, John Smoltz (3-0, 0.56 ERA). Smoltz gave up 1 run in 6.0 IP, allowing 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5 last time he faced DC.

In his career, much like last night's starter Tim Hudson, Smoltz has dominated the Nationals' franchise, posting a (21-11) record in 40 starts, with 4 CG's and 17 saves in 303.2 IP against Washington/Montreal, with a 2.58 ERA and 260 K's in 303.1 IP.

John Lannan, on the other hand, has 9 career starts, Period. This season's start against Atlanta was Lannan's first against the Braves. In the Majors, Lannan's (2-4) with a 4.38 career ERA in 16.2 IP thus far as a pro...

The last time John Smoltz lost to Washington...was on May 12th of '07, a 2-1 loss to Nationals' righty Jason Bergmann, who went 8.0 IP, allowing just 2 hits and 1 R with 10 K's. It's probably going to take the same kind of effort from Lannan to beat Atlanta and end yet another '08 losing streak. (Which currently stands at 3 straight losses, and 6 of the last 7, 15 of the last 17...Does John Lannan have an '07-Bergmannesque performance in him?

...Against the New York Mets last week (a 3-2 DC loss), Lannan went 6.0 IP, and allowed 3 hits, and 1 ER, while striking out 11. (ed. note - "The 11 K's last game against NY are 1 more than Lannan had in 6 starts last season.")

Nationals' #'s against Smoltz...

Ryan Zimmerman - 10 for 34, .294 AVG, 3 2B, 2 HR's, 10 RBI's.

Austin Kearns - 8 for 26, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI's.

(ed. note - "Yeah that's it really for good #'s against Smoltz.)

Cristian Guzman Must Want A Big Contract Next Year...

Either that, or Guzman's just finally healthy. Last night, Guzman was 3 for 5 with a double, to raise his season AVG to .321. Lastings Milledge was 0 for 2 with a HBP, and a K, and the young center fielder's still batting .273 in '08, and the RBI he picked up was his 7th this year. The problem is...No one else on the team is hitting, and they're not too likely to find their collective "strokes" against John Smoltz.

DY UPDATE...

According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Young heads to back specialist", DC fans shouldn't expect DY back anytime soon, as he traveled to Miami yesterday to have his balky back examined. Mr. Ladson writes that, "Young has not swung the bat in a while," and a recent DY quote is included in the article, with DY stating:

"'I feel good today,' Young said last week. 'Yesterday, not too good. Tomorrow, we will see.'"

..and finally, Washington Post baseball writer Barry Svrluga has a new post at his "Nationals Journal" entitled, "Analyzing a slump: Zimmerman", which addresses some of the whispers some Nationals' fans are hearing/voicing about third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

...according to an unnamed scout quoted in Mr. Svrluga's article:

"They're asking him to be a star, and he's not ready to be a star."

It certainly is an interesting look at the Nationals' third baseman's recent struggles, regardless of whether or not you believe that Zimmerman's ready to be a star...all I know is, I haven't written, "THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!" in quite a long time...

GAME TIME tonight...7:00 pm Tuesday night...Tune in, and log in here, to commiserate...