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Game Thread: Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs - 2008 Game 129 of 162. "John Lannan Makes His Wrigley Field Debut For DC."

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On The HIll...

The Washington Nationals took two of three from Chicago when the Cubs visited Nationals Park in the last week of April, with Jon Rauch and John Lannan earning the DC wins in the first and third games and Cubs' starter Carlos Zambrano pitching 7.0 shutout innings in a 7-0 Chicago win in the second. Zambrano just pitched last night, so Washington won't have to see him this weekend. In the first of the three day games at Wrigley Field, which end the season series between the teams, the Nationals throw John "Cool Hand" Lannan (6-12, 3.81 ERA), who beat the Cubs (in his only career start against Chicago) on April 27th with 7.0 shutout innings of his own, holding the highly-regarded Cubs' offense to just 4 hits, and allowing 4 walks with 3 K's before handing the ball to Luis Ayala, now with the Mets, and Jon Rauch, now a D-Back, who preserved the slim 2-0 Nationals' win.

The Cubs counter with Jason Marquis, (8-7, 4.67 ERA), who hasn't faced the DC franchise since September 4, 2006. In his 9-year career, Marquis, now 29, has pitched in 18 games and started 10 against the Nationals/Expos with a (3-4) record and a 3.57 ERA in 75.2 innings pitched, a 1.30 WHIP and a .249 BAA. Marquis was able to win his last two '08 starts with the help of 21 runs of support in 11.2 IP, but before that he was (0-4) over six outings with the Cubs 2-4 over the same stretch of games.

John Lannan is (2-4) in his last 10 starts with Washington 2-8 in the games he's begun since June 22nd. On the road in '08, Lannan's (4-5) in 14 starts and 90.0 innings, over which he's allowed 79 hits, 24 ER, 5 HR's and 29 walks, while collecting 64 K's and a 2.40 ERA as a visiting starter. At home in Wrigley, Marquis is (4-4) in 12 starts with a 5.68 ERA in 69.2 IP. In just 10.1 innings more than he's pitched on the road, (where he has a 3.49 ERA), at home in '08, Marquis has allowed 33 more hits, 22 more runs, 21 earned, and 6 more home runs on the mound in Chicago, though he's walked 11 less and struck out 16 more...

Nationals' #'s Against Jason Marquis...

Ronnie Belliard - 3 for 7, .429 AVG, 1 HR, 2 RBI's.

Austin Kearns - 8 for 19, .421 AVG, 2 HR's, 5 RBI's.

Lastings Milledge - 2 for 2, 1.000 AVG, 1 2B.

Ryan Zimmerman - 2 for 6, .333 AVG, 1 HR, 2 RBI's.

Cubs vs Lannan...

Kosuke Fukudome - 1 for 3, .333 AVG, 1 2B.

Who's Got The Tools? According To Baseball America...

In the most recent newsstand edition of Baseball America's magazine, they turn their attention to tools, breaking down the game into a precise set of skills and judging who are the top three major/minor leaguers in each category.

The only Nationals mentioned in the National League list?...The 3rd Best Bunter in the NL, Cristian Guzman, who finishes behind Willy Taveras (Col) and Juan Pierre (LAD), and the 3rd Best Defensive Third Baseman in the league, Ryan Zimmerman, who finishes behind Aramis Ramirez, and the defending Gold Glove winner at third, David Wright.

In Baseball America's Triple-A "Best Tools" list, Columbus Clippers' first baseman Larry Broadway gets the nod as the Best Defensive First Baseman, and Emilio Bonifacio, who was still with Arizona when the list was compiled, is named the Best Defensive Second Baseman in the highest level of the Minors. Roger Bernadina was named the Double-AA Eastern Leagues' Best Baserunner for his work with the Harrisburg Senators, though he's currently playing in Columbus. Harrisburg's Offilio Casto is recognized as the Best Defensive Third Baseman in the Eastern League, and in Class-A ball, both Michael Burgess, Best Outfield Arm, and Bill Rhinehart of the Hagerstown Suns receive top billing, with Rhineheart, an 11th Round pick in '07, named the Best Defensive First Baseman in the High-A South Atlantic League.

Coincidentally, John Sickels at Minor League Ball.com...

....has just (re)posted his 11/20/07 list, "Washington Nationals Top 20 Prospects in Review", which grades and quickly assesses the top players from every level of the Nationals' system. It's an interesting look back at how things stood before this season started, and what has changed since last November. The only addition to the original post is a quick comment at the conclusion of the list, with Mr. Sickels writing:

"Making slow progress. As I wrote in the original list, there is a lot of potential depth here, but young pitching can go backwards on you fast and that happened with some of these guys. They really could have used Crow."

That's alright, Federalbaseball.com is already over Crow...We've moved on...unless he's available 10th overall in '09???

THE STRASBURG FILES...

By the time I wake up today, Stephen Strasburg, considered by many a lock for the 1st Overall pick of the '09 Draft will have already started the US Men's Semi-Final game against the tough, professional, Cuban squad. If the Washington Nationals continue their losing ways, they're a shoo-in for the 1st Pick in '09, and as quoted in MLB.com's Mark Newman's article entitled, "Strasburg looks to lead U.S. toward gold", he comes off as a humble but determined younger pitcher, telling Mr. Newman:

"'It's a great honor for me -- obviously the biggest game of my career,' said Strasburg, the possible No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, who just turned 20 last month. 'I'm very confident. I'm just going to go out there and do what I've been doing all year. I'm not going to change in any way. If they hit me, I'll tip my cap to them.'"

Strasburg had a no-hitter after six innings, and he threw 7.0 scoreless against the Netherlands last Thursday in his only previous '08 Olympic appearance, beating Nationals' pitching prospect Shairon Martis, and allowing just 1 hit and 1 walk with 11 K's in a 7-0 win over the Dutch, a team which also has DC infield prospect Yurendell de Caster on its roster, who was 0 for 3 with 2 K's against Strasburg.

But Strasburg's a possibility For The Future...

For A Chicago Perspective on the series check out the SBN's Cubs' blog:

Bleed Cubbie Blue.com

Today, at 2:20 pm EST, the Nationals and Cubs meet in Wrigley Field. Lannan vs Marquis. The Nationals look to win two straight after dropping twelve in-a-row before last night's win. The Cubs are 8-2 in their last 10, and they start play tomorrow with a 5.5 game lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central. Game one of three in Chicago, home of Molly's Cupcakes, and the #1 selling Ron Bennington Has His Own Cupcake...Who's Watching The Nationals In Chicago?