While the AL West's third-place Texas Rangers were busy taking two of three from the NL East's last-place Washington Nationals here in DC, the West's first-place Los Angeles Angels were busy sweeping the NL East's first-place Phillies out of Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia, PA. The next stop on the Angels' east coast Interleague swing is Nationals Park, where DC's finest and the left-coast's pride meet in a three-game series in the nation's capital.
On The Hill...
Washington right-hander Jason Bergmann (1-5, 5.03 ERA) has dropped four straight starts, with two no-decisions in six outings since the Neptune, NJ native last came out on the winning end of an appearance, in what has thus far been his only win of the '08 season, back on May 15th in New York. Bergmann got 0 runs of support in two effective starts following that first win, in which Bergmann held the opposition scoreless only to see the bullpen lose both contests, but he's given up a total of 14 runs over 21.2 innings pitched during his current 4-game slide, with 6 walks and 6 HR's surrendered in losing efforts to the D-Backs, Giants, Pirates and Twins. Even more unsettling, the Nationals, as a team, are (1-9) in the 10 games Bergmann has started, or in one case, appeared in, on the mound this season.
The Angels counter with right-handed starter John Lackey, who is no servant, liveried footman, or manservant as his surname might imply, but rather a well-nigh unhittable starter who possesses an ERA (1.73) and WHIP (0.92) which would be the envy of any hurler in the Majors, with a (4-1) record in 7 starts this season, the beginning of which was delayed for Lackey until the late date of May 14th, as the 29-year old pitcher recovered from a "strained tricep".
Jason Bergmann's yet to face the LA Angels in his 4-year National League-based career, with only 4 appearances, all in relief against American League competition, during which he was hit hard for 10 ER's on 16 hits and 3 HR's in 6.1 IP. John Lackey's pitched in just one game against the DC franchise back in 2004, when the Nationals were still the Expos, and the Angels were still from Anaheim. Lackey allowed 7 hits, 4 ER's and 1 HR in that start, which the Angels lost 6-5 to the Expos in old Olympic Stadium in metropolitan Montreal. (ed. note - "Who hit the 1 HR? That would be Ron Calloway, a name which should draw interrogative "Who?'s" from all but the most obsessive Expos' fans.")
Don't Threaten Us Vladimir!!!
Luckily the threat implied in the title of MLB.com Angels' writer Lyle Spencer's article, "Vlad looks to wreak havoc in new venue", is just a generalized threat that exists for any team facing the daunting power of the former franchise wunderkind Vladimir Guerrero, who left Montreal for Los Angeles two seasons before Washington Nationals' fans were given the chance to appreciate his considerable skill.
Vladimir Guerrero has a .323 career batting average over 13 MLB seasons, and the kind of numbers...2,047 hits, 387 doubles, 42 triples, 378 HR's, 1,219 RBI's, 169 steals, and legendary outfield arm, that would seem to have the 32-year old outfielder destined for Cooperstown when he does finally decide to hang them up, but the fact that he plied his trade for so long in the baseball-Siberia known as Montreal, and has yet to lead the Angels to a 'Series win, might be held against him when he's one day held up for judgement. Let's hope they don't overlook Mr. Guerrero.
LA Angels' Skipper Mike Scioscia certainly knows what he has in Guerrero, telling Mr. Spencer, as quoted in the aforementioned article:
"'I haven't seen anybody with Vlad's bat speed, hand-eye coordination, his ability to cover balls eight inches off the plate ... neck-high to shin-high,' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. 'This guy is as dangerous a player as has ever been in the batter's box.'"
...And Speaking of Mr. Scioscia -
Lest you think, Nationals' fans have forgotten, let me set the scene...
June 14, 2005. The Washington Nationals Inaugural Season. Anaheim, California's Angels Stadium. The Nationals and Angels are in a close 3-1 game with the Angels ahead in the seventh when Manager Mike Scioscia turns to veteran right-hander Brendan Donnelly, who never throws a pitch this night, but instead throws a fit upon being ejected when Washington points out, and the Umpires find, an illegal substance present on Donnelly's glove.
The Angels' Manager follows his pitcher in pitching a fit upon the field of play, at one point even having the audacity to bump the then 69-year old Nationals' Manager Frank Robinson, while the two went at it verbally near home plate. The source of the tip on Donnelly's cheating was, at the time, believed to be outfielder Jose Guillen, who had played in LA the previous season, and it was Guillen who summed up what many felt about Scioscia's antics and actions that night towards Mr. Robinson, in an article by MLB.com's Mark Thoma entitled, "Angels' Donnelly tossed for illegal glove", where Guillen's quoted explaining:
"'You guys saw what happened there,' Guillen said. 'That's what [ticked] me off. We're talking about respect, and I don't think [Scioscia] showed any respect to Frank. Frank deserves more respect than that.'"
Check the NatCast if you're heading to Nationals Park...
If you're going to the game tonight at 7:10 pm EST, let Mr. Scioscia know that you haven't forgotten and give him his proper booing when he's introduced or makes his presence known. He deserves it for the lack of respect he showed to a man who was at the time nearly 25-years his senior. Don't forget Frank Robinson, and let Mr. Scioscia know that you haven't forgotten him either. (ed. note - "I miss Jose Guillen.") Play ball...(ed. note - "Welcome 'home' Vladi.")