On The Hill...
Dodgers' right-hander Derek Lowe owns the Nationals. (4-0) in 4 starts and 10 appearances opposite the DC franchise, Lowe has allowed just 31 hits, 13 runs, 4 HR's and 10 walks in 32.2 innings pitched against Washington/Montreal, posting a 3.58 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and a .250 BAA over his 12-year Major League career. All 4 of the 35-year-old, 6'6'' right-handers' starts and wins against the Nationals have come in the last two seasons, with Lowe struggling but winning both starts in Dodger Stadium and dominating the Nationals when he's visited the nation's capital and old RFK.
In LA on July 29th of '06, Derek Lowe faced DC lefty Mike O'Connor, giving up 7 hits, 4 ER's, 1 walk and 1 HR while striking out 8 in 5.0 innings of a 7-5 Dodgers' win. In 2007, on August 27th, Lowe faced and beat Nationals' lefty, (and Washington's Most Famous Pitcher), "Hollywood" Mike Bacsik, with the Dodgers taking a 5-4 decision, and Lowe earning a "W" for 6.0 innings of 7-hit, 4-run work during which he allowed 3 HR's (to DY, WMP and Zim), though Lowe held on to even his record at (11-11) as August '07 ended. (In Lowe's 2 DC starts, he allowed just 8 hits, 1 ER, and 4 walks with 8 K's in 14.0 innings.)
In 3 July '08 starts for the NL West's 2nd Place Dodgers, Lowe's (2-0) with a 4.50 ERA in 18.0 IP, with Los Angeles 3-0 over the same stretch of starts, and 6-5 in Lowe's last 11 outings.
"Opening Night" Odalis Perez's is (2-0) in 3 career starts against the Dodgers, though he hasn't faced Los Angeles since May 11th of 2001. In 20.0 IP in those 3 starts, Perez has allowed 16 hits, 5 ER,'s 1 HR and 9 walks with 9 K's and a 2.25 ERA against LA over the 31-year-old lefty's 10 MLB seasons.
Perez was knocked about a bit by the Braves in his last start this season, giving up 9 hits, 5 ER's and 2 HR's, though he benefited from, and earned a win courtesy of, the Nationals' 15-run explosion last Sunday in Atlanta.
So far this season, Odalis Perez is just (3-7) with a 3.99 ERA in 94.2 IP, with Washington 8-10 in games he's started. Tonight will be Perez's fifth start this July, and he's just (1-2) in the previous 4, with the Nationals (1-3) in his July starting appearances, including the short 2.2 inning outing in which Perez was called for two balks and tossed when he argued with Umpire Angel Hernandez. (ed. note - "The only 2 balks called on Odalis this season, Mr. Hernandez!")
Nationals' #'s Against Derek Lowe...
Cristian Guzman - 5 for 21, .238 AVG, 1 2B, 4 RBI's.
Willie Harris - 5 for 17, .294 AVG, 1 2B, 4 SB's.
Paul Lo Duca - 3 for 11, .273 AVG.
Ryan Zimmerman - 2 for 11, .182 AVG, 1 HR, 1 RBI.
Felipe Lopez - 5 for 15, .333 AVG, 1 2B, 1 RBI.
Austin Kearns - 2 for 15, .133 AVG, 1 HR, 2 RBI's.
The "If They Were Playing" List...
DY - 8 for 24, .333 AVG, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI's.
Wily Mo Pena - 1 for 1, 1.000 AVG, 1 HR, 1 RBI.
Aaron Boone - 2 for 6, .333 AVG, 2 2B, 3 RBI's.
Odalis Perez Should Be Extra-Careful With...
Andruw Jones - 5 for 12, .417 AVG, 2 HR's, 6 RBI's.
Jeff Kent - 4 for 15, .267 AVG, 1 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI's.
"Wild" Joel Hanrahan's Metamorphosis...
Joel Hanrahan pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth last night in his first appearance since he became the new Nationals' closer. On Thursday, Hanrahan spoke about his new role with Washington Times' writer Mark Zuckerman, for an article entitled, "Unlikely Closer Emerges for Nats", in which Mr. Zuckerman writes that the 26-year-old right-hander, who worked his way through the Dodgers' and Nationals' systems as a starter, is as surprised as anyone about his new role with the team.
Mr. Zuckerman quotes DC Manager Manny Acta in the article, and Mr. Acta, rather matter-of-factly states his reasons for the choice of Hanrahan to replace outgoing stopper Jon Rauch:
"'He's been our most dominant guy out of our bullpen and has the best numbers,' the manager reasoned. 'So he'll get the crack at it.'"
Mr. Zuckerman recounts Hanrahan's transition from starter to reliever and now closer, and then writes that the, "Nationals appear committed to giving Hanrahan a prolonged audition," with Mr. Acta elaborating on the grooming process the team undertook with Hanrahan:
"'When somebody has that type of stuff, you automatically think he's got closer stuff,' Acta said. 'But we also knew we had to take it slow and step-by-step because of his control issues. It was a matter of him being able to feel comfortable pitching in the sixth, seventh, eighth. We'll see. We'll have two months to find out what he can do.'"
Outgoing Opinions From Arizona About DC's Future Second Baseman Emilio Bonifacio...
According to an Arizona Republic article by Nick Piecoro, Emilio Bonifacio, the second base prospect the Nationals acquired in the Jon Rauch trade:
"...was widely regarded as the second baseman of the future, a speedy security blanket who could step in if (when?) Orlando Hudson departs as a free agent in the off-season."
"But...," and this an awfully BIG BUT:
"...internally, the Diamondbacks had reservations about whether Bonifacio would hit enough to be an above-average, everyday player..."
That's a stark contrast from the description the Nationals' Assistant GM Tom Rizzo, (formerly the D-Backs' Director of Scouting before joining DC), expressed after the trade, to Washington Post writer Chico Harlan, who quoted Mr. Rizzo, in a "Nationals Journal" post entitled, "Eight Thoughts, Observations and Informational Nuggets", describing Emilio Bonifacio as:
"...the fastest guy I ever scouted. I just really loved his acrobatic, live body. Always threw well playing shortstop, always moved really well. We started him switch-hitting then, and the bat has really come on to the point where we think he's going to be a productive major league hitter."
Which is the real Bonifacio? After 2 games at Triple-AAA with the Nationals' affiliate in Columbus, Emilio Bonifacio's...5 for 9, .556 AVG, 2 runs scored, 1 SB, if he keeps that up and some trades take place before the deadline, DC fans might get a chance to find out.
Game two of the Nationals' three-game series in Los Angeles gets underway at 10:10 pm EST tomorrow night with Odalis Perez vs Derek Lowe on the mound in Dodger Stadium. Lastings Milledge was 0 for 4, 1 K in his return from the DL...When will Hanrahan get a chance to close one? "Wild" Joel Hanrahan was lights out last night...Maybe tonight will be the night...Two games to go on the road trip, and then it's back to DC...Who's watching the Nationals?