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Game Thread: Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals - 2008 Game 92 of 162. "With Losses In Five Straight, The Washington Nationals Turn To John 'Cool Hand' Lannan To End The Slide or Why Isn't Anyone Watching The Nationals?"

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On The Hill...

DC lefty John "Cool Hand" Lannan (4-9, 3.60 ERA) faced Arizona last year in Phoenix's Chase Field, where the then-rookie pitcher threw 7.0 innings of 4-hit, 1-run ball in a 1-0 loss to last night's D-Back's starter Brandon Webb, but this time, a 23-year old Lannan faces off against the Diamondbacks' power-hitting right-handed pitcher Micah Owings, (6-7, 5.15 ERA), whose last start against DC came on May 30, 2008 here in DC, in a rare 7-4 Washington win in which Owings allowed 8 hits, 6 runs, and 1 HR with 6 K's in 6.1 innings pitched.

The 25-year old Owings has 3 career starts against the Nationals with a (1-1) record in 17.2 innings, and he's only given up 13 hits and 7 runs, with 5 walks and 20 K's collected, which means that before this seasons' rough outing against DC, Owings faced Washington twice last season, and he allowed just 1 run and 5 hits, with 14 K's in 11.1 innings. (0-5) in his last 7 trips to the mound, Owings' ERA has risen from 3.73 to 5.15 over the same period, with the D-Backs losing 5 of his 6 starts. Owings skipped his last turn in the rotation and then got some work retiring the final two outs of a loss to the Padres in his first relief appearance this season, after sitting with what have been reported as gluteus and groin issues...

The Nationals take a 6-game losing streak into tonight's game, and they've also lost 8-straight "Cool Hand" Lannan starts, with Lannan (0-5) over that stretch, and Lannan's last win all the way back on May 18th in Baltimore. Streaks are made to be broken...or was it rules? Whatever...Guzman's hitting-streak ended at 14-games last night...Will Washington's, Arizona's, Lannan's or Owings' streak end tonight? Quick POLL...Whose streak ends tonight?

Nationals' #'s Against Micah Owings...

Aaron Boone - 1 for 3, .333 AVG, 1 2B.

Cristian Guzman - 2 for 4, .500 AVG, 1 2B.

DY- 2 for 4, .500 AVG.

Willie Harris - 1 for 7, .143 AVG, 1 HR, 3 RBI's.

Austin Kearns - (ed. note - "Who Kills AZ Pitching!") - 7 for 18, .389 AVG, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI's.

The "If They Were Playing" List...

Elijah Dukes - 1 for 1, 1.000 AVG.

Lastings Milledge - 0 for 1, .000 AVG, 1 RBI.

Johnny Estrada - (ed. note - "Yep, still a National.") - 1 for 3, .333 AVG.

"Cool Hand" Lannan vs Arizona...

Conor Jackson - 1 for 3, .333 AVG.

Chris Burke - 1 for 2, .500 AVG.

Justin Upton - 1 for 3, .333 AVG, 1 3B, 1 RBI.

"Zimmerman Watch" - Federal Baseball's 24-Hour, 22 Hou...12 Hour... Intermittent Dodgy Coverage of the BREAKING NEWS! And ACTION!!......

According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in an article entitled, "Injured Zimmerman takes swings", the Nationals' Third Baseman Ryan Zimmerman took batting practice yesterday for the first time since being placed on the DL back on May 31st with a small labral tear in his left shoulder, and now,"The Nationals are now hoping..." in Mr. Ladson's words, "...that Zimmerman will return to action by late July or sometime in August."

I Always Ask, "Who's Watching The Nationals"...Turns Out There Are Only 9,000 Of You Out There...(UPDATED for 7/9)...

Washington Post Staff Writer Dan Steinberg's article entitled, "Nats Striking Out on TV", continues the discussion of the distressingly low TV ratings the Nationals have been drawing in their fourth season in the nation's capital, with Mr. Steinberg starting his column by writing:

"The Washington Nationals are drawing the smallest U.S. regional television audience in baseball this season, attracting less than one-third the average number of households of any other team..."

Mr. Steinberg's article confirms the 0.39 "Nielsen Media Research" rating, (which translates to a 9,000 viewer total for Nationals' televised games), that has appeared in print elsewhere recently, (which, Mr. Steinberg writes, is, "...a decline of about 43 percent from last season's totals..."), and Mr. Steinberg then proceeds to really poke a stick at frustrated Nationals' fans by offering, by way of comparison, the fact that the Interleague/Regional rival Baltimore Orioles:

"...are averaging a 3.05 rating and 33,000 households in the Baltimore market. Aside from the Nationals, the Kansas City Royals have attracted the lowest regional audience, approximately 28,000 households."

That's a difference of 19,000 fans from the second-lowest rated team's total?? Have people simply stopped watching television? The Nationals are averaging 29,754 fans at Nationals Park, (which Mr. Steinberg reports ranks Washington, "...15th in the 30-team league."), leading one to believe...What? That there are only 39,000 Nationals' fans amongst the estimated 5.3 million people in DC Metropolitan area? Are people still cheering for the Orioles? They do have much better TV ratings...Are Zimmerman, Johnson, Milledge, Dukes and Cordero really ratings gold? This one remains a mystery...

Check the NatCast if you're heading to Nationals Park...

Lannan vs Owings. D-Backs at Nationals. Streak vs Streak vs Streak vs Streak. It's a 7:10 pm start again for the second of three for Arizona in DC...Who's Watching The Nationals? Make yourself known, all 9,000 of you? And the rest of you get with it..."Cool Hand" Lannan is pitching!!! Play Ball!!...