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Game Thread: Washington Nationals at Milwaukee Brewers- 2008 Game 116 of 162. "Game 7 of The Washington Nationals' Collin Balester Era...Let The Spoiling Begin!"

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On The Hill...Setting The Scene

The Milwaukee Brewers are currently second in the NL's Central Division, 5.0 games behind the 1st Place Chicago Cubs and 1.0 game ahead of 3rd Place St. Louis, which places them 1.0 game up on the Cardinals in the NL Wild Card Race, and 3.0 and 3.5 games ahead of the NL East's Wild Card aspirants from Florida and New York, respectively, as the Brewers welcome the Washington Nationals to town for the first of a four game series in Miller Park, at 1 Brewers Way in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

When the Brewers acquired today's starter CC Sabathia, Brewers' GM Doug Melvin excitedly told MLB.com writer Adam McCalvy, in an article entitled, "Brewers net Sabathia for four prospects":

"'We're going for it!'"

After Sabathia's first start for the Brewers, a win over the Rockies on July 8th, Milwaukee was in 3rd Place in the Central, 4.0 games behind 1st Place Chicago and a .5 game behind St. Louis. Since then, the Brewers are 14-11, while the Cubs have gone 15-10 to hold onto first, and the Cardinals have been 13-13, to drop into third.

The Brewers, however, aren't settling for the lead in the Wild Card race over the Cardinals. Milwaukee's vegetarian slugger Prince Fielder told Adam McCalvy for another MLB.com article entitled, "Brewers in thick of pennant race":

"'The Wild Card is fine, but you want to win your division,' said Fielder...,"The Wild Card is great, but that's like a secondary thing.'"

...and into the midst of all this optimism and competitive baseball, walk the Washington Nationals, winners of 6 of their last 7, (since their own deadline deal brought exciting infielder Emilio Bonifacio to DC), and the NL East's last/fifth place team, 27 games under .500, at 44-71 and in a perfect position to start spoiling other team's playoff dreams.

As they try to upset the Brewers' Postseason chances, the Nationals throw right-hander Collin Balester, who'll be making the 7th start of his MLB career, and his first against Milwaukee, tonight in Miller Park. Balester's (2-3) with a 4.55 ERA in his first 6 starts, with his second win coming last time out against the Reds after he'd dropped 3 of 4 outings (with one no-decision) since winning his Major League debut on July 1st.

Sabathia's been in the Majors for 8 seasons, debuting on April 8th 2001, but he's only faced the DC franchise once, as he's spent all but the last month+ in the American League and avoided the Nationals/Expos in Interleague Play. The lone start took place back on June 21, 2002, with Sabathia dropping a 3-1 decision to the Montreal Expos in the Stade Olympique. CC pitched 7.1 innings in that game against the Expos, allowing 4 hits and 3 runs with 5 walks and 5 K's.

Nationals' #'s Against CC (no periods) Sabathia...

Cristian Guzman - 8 for 30, .267 AVG, 2 2B, 2 RBI's.

Willie Harris - 1 for 5, .200 AVG.

Austin Kearns - 2 for 8, .250 AVG, 1 2B.

Maybe Just Call Him Up From Columbus For 1 Day To Face Sabathia...

Pokey Reese - 3 for 9, .333 AVG, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI.

The "If They Were Playing" List...

DY - 4 for 28, .143 AVG, 1 2B, 3 RBI's, 4 BB, 9 K's.

Aaron Boone - 1 for 6, .167 AVG.

The Big Bopper?

In Chico Harlan's "Nationals Journal" post entitled, "The Power Game", the Washington Post sports writer asks DC Manager Manny Acta, "...if he believed his team could contend without adding more power?" to which Mr. Acta responded:

"'We do need more power. We need probably a big power threat in the middle of our lineup, preferably that can hit from the left side.'"

MLB.com's Bill Ladson mentions a few possibilities that the Nationals were considering in his article entitled, "Nats seek bopper in middle of lineup", where he writes, "Before the deadline...":

"...there was talk of acquiring difference-makers such as Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday or Reds first baseman/outfielder Adam Dunn."

The Nationals are currently 12th (of 16 teams) in the NL in Doubles, 14th of 16 in HR's, 15th of 16 in RBI's, 15th of 16th in team BA, and dead last in the NL in SLG%. Adam Dunn could have definitely added to the Nationals' K totals, but all kidding aside, with all his negative attributes (all the K's?), Dunn's 32 HR's and 74 RBI's are 21 HR's and 23 RBI's more than anyone currently on the Nationals' roster has collected this season. Holliday...well, who wouldn't want Matt Holliday on their team, but unless the Nationals were planning on parting ways with Austin Kearns, Elijah Dukes, Milledge, or some of their outfield prospects, where exactly did they think they would've fit either of these two into their outfield??

Dave at Bottomfeeder Baseball.com...

...checked in yesterday with a FANPOST entitled, "BREAKING NEWS: Dukes to the DL", which udpated Nationals' fans on the condition of Elijah Dukes' injured right calf as well as the corresponding roster moves that followed Dukes being place on the 15-Day DL.

For A Brewers' fans' perspective on the upcoming series with DC check out the SBN's Brewers' blog:

Brew Crew Ball.

Tonight's game starts at 8:05 pm Miller Time. Balester vs Sabathia. Bernie vs Screech. Democracy vs Beer. Presidents Race vs Sausage Race? Playoff Hopes vs Spoiler's Dreams. Prince Fielder vs The Nationals' Non-Existent Bopper? The New Nationals in Milwaukee...Who's Watching The Nationals?