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Game Thread: Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies - 2008 Game 126 of 162. "New Nation's Capital vs The O.C. (Original Capital)."

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"'I think now is right for me,' Ayala told Washington-area reporters. 'I get a trade...try to put a new uniform on.'" - Luis Ayala in Newark Star-Ledger sports writer Jeremy Cothran's article entitled, "Team acquires Ayala to bolster floundering pen."

(ed. note - "I don't resent Luis Ayala's decision to request a trade out of DC, what competitive player (in the later stages of their career) wouldn't want the chance to compete for baseball's romanticized ultimate prize, in fact, if you thought the Nationals' tv audience of 9,000 daily viewers was impossibly low, I'd hate to imagine how low those numbers have dipped as the Nationals have dropped 81 of 125, and the viewers have probably left because they can, by turning off the TV, (though they still go to games at Nationals Park), so when Ayala saw the opportunity to bolt, he requested a trade, with the Mets already expressing interest, and it would seem there was no reason not to unload Ayala, who has underperformed, to a team that no one in baseball wants to see succeed, while simultaneously pleasing a steadfast Skipper, Nationals' Manager Manny Acta, who was familiar with and fond of the Player (Soon-to-Be)-Named Later, Anderson Hernandez, when both he and Acta were with the Mets. I'm still pissed about Crow though...but the $ he wanted was ridicul...oh enough, enough!...We Want Stras-Burg! We Want Stras-Burg!")

On The Hill...

"I never saw anything like it. He doesn't just hit pitchers. He takes their dignity away." - Hall of Fame Pitcher Don Sutton on Fellow Hall of Famer Willie Stargell, as collected in David Plaut's "Speaking of Baseball".

I don't know if I'd compare Ryan Howard to Willie Stargell just yet, after all, Stargell hit .282 over 21 seasons (1962-82) in the Majors with 475 HR's and 1,540 RBI's, but...Stargell never put up numbers for the Pirates like Howard did for Pennsylvania's second-favorite Phillies in 2006, when Howard hit 58 HR's, with a .313 AVG and 149 RBI's, while Stargell's single-season highs are the 48 HR's and 125 RBI's he put up in 1975 and the .315 AVG he hit for back in '66, but it is safe to say that each was the premier slugger opposing pitchers had to face when playing either the Pirates or Phillies during each of their careers...

DC righty Jason Bergmann (2-9, 4.51 ERA) has the privilege of facing Ryan Howard tonight, and though Bergmann probably won't end up in the Hall of Fame, he might one day recount anecdotes about having faced Howard back in the day...What he probably won't mention, however, is the fact that Howard homered off him once, because otherwise Bergmann's held Philly's slugger at bay, allowing only 3 hits and 4 RBI's in 14 at bats against the Phils' hulking lefty.

Against the Phillies as a whole, Bergmann is (0-2) in 7 starts and 3 relief appearances in his 4-year career, with a 3.80 ERA in 42.2 innings, over which he's allowed 37 hits, 18 ER's, 3 HR's and 15 RBI's while collecting 36 K's, a 1.22 WHIP and a .227 BAA...

Philly throws right-hander Joe Blanton, who has faced the Nationals just once in his 5-year career in Oakland and now Philadelphia, and he got hit fairly hard in that start for the A's, but it was back in RFK in 2005, and the players who hit Blanton that game, Nick Johnson and Vinny Castilla are not playing baseball right now due to injuries and age in each case, respectively...

In 25 starts this season, Blanton's (6-12), though he's (1-0) in 5 starts with the Phillies. Bergmann's taken his turn in the rotation 18 times in '08, twice against the Phillies, giving up 7 hits, 5 runs and 1 HR in a loss on April 3rd in Philadelphia, and shutting the Phils out over 7.0 innings and receiving no decision for his efforts in a 1-0 loss on the 20th of May in DC's Nationals Park...

"Every batter works on the theory that the pitcher is more afraid of him than he is of the pitcher." - Ty Cobb, as collected in David Plaut's "Speaking of Baseball".

Nationals' #'s Against Joe Blanton...

Aaron Boone - 2 for 4, .500 AVG, 1 HR, 3 RBI's.

Cristian Guzman - 0 for 3, .000 AVG.

The "I Wish He Didn't Quit Retire Two Springs Back" List...

Travis Lee vs Joe Blanton - 4 for 12, .333 AVG, 2 RBI's.

Phillies' #'s Against The Native of Neptune...New Jersey, Jason Bergmann...

Pat Burrell - 4 for 15, .267 AVG, 1 2B, 2 RBI's.

Chris Coste - 3 for 5, .600 AVG, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI.

Geoff Jenkins - 5 for 9, .556 AVG, 1 HR, 2 RBI's.

Jimmy Rollins - 3 for 21, .143 AVG, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI's, 2 SB.

Chase...Utley - 4 for 19, .211 AVG, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI.

Olympic Update...

Nationals' pitching prospect Shairon Martis, who was acquired from San Fran for bullpen veteran Mike Stanton in July of '06, made his name in the international game the previous March, pitching a no-hitter for the Netherlands in a 7.0 inning mercy-ruled game against Panama in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, and he's back pitching for the Dutch now, in the '08 Olympics, having taken a leave from Triple-A Columbus, (where Martis was (1-2) with a 3.28 ERA in 6 starts and 35.2 innings pitched as a Clipper), to join his fellow countrymen (and Clipper), infielder Yurendell de Caster on the Netherlands squad.

In Shairon Martis' first start, against the US of A, he got lit up, taking the loss in a 7-0 shutout. Martis surrendered 2 HR's, (one to Indians' prospect Matt LaPorta), and lasted just 4.2 innings, allowing 6 hits, 5 ER and 2 walks with 6 K's. Martis is scheduled to start the final game for the Dutch in the Men's Preliminary Round tonight against Canada at 10:30...uh, sorry, they're actually playing it right now, (12:11 am EST Tuesday, and Martis and the Dutch are down 3-0 to Canada in the fourth)...

Yurendell de Caster was 4 for 19, heading into play tonight, today, with 1 R, 1 RBI and 2 doubles...and 1 error defensively...(Today for de Caster?...I'll update when it's avaiable.)

"I had to fight all my life to survive. They were all against me...but I beat the bastards and left them in a ditch." - Ty Cobb, as collected in David Plaut's "Speaking of Baseball".

For a Philly Fan's Perspective Check Out The SBN's Phillies' blog....

The Good Phight.

That last Cobb quote is just inspiration for the series with the Phillies, hang it up on a wall somewhere, Acta...Tonight's game gets underway at 7:05 in Philadelphia's miniature ballpark. Bergmann vs Blanton. Jersey vs Philly. DC vs Philly. New Nation's Capital vs Old Nation's Capital. Fugazi vs the Roots? What bands are from DC???...Ryan Howard vs the K...Chase...Utley!...Who's Watching the Nationals in Phil-Phil-Lay-Lay???