Thursday, August 6, 2009

What We Have Here is Called a "Winning Streak"

Perfect timing too, as the Strasburg contract drive should be wrapping up soon, yet no word is coming from either side. People would be getting a little anxious if they hadn't been distracted by all that success on the field.

So how have the Nats been able to pull of this run? Their bats have been quite lively, but they were still getting shelled while scoring six runs per game back in May. The key has been timing. The Clippard bases loaded Houdini act is a great example, but check out a couple of examples from last night.

Third inning, bases loaded, two out, and Cody Ross rips a hot shot at 3rd base. Lannan had made great pitch, so Ros hit the ball with some interesting topspin, and the ball comes up on Zimmerman and gets away. Unless the ball is fielded cleanly, this is probably a run against any other corner infielder in the league. Zimmerman recovers, bare hands the ball off the infield grass and flicks it upside down to Dunn to beat Ross by a half step at first. Insane play that saved one run for sure, but the way the Nats have played this year, those always compounded into big innings for the opponent.

Fifth inning, runners on the corners, nobody out, second best hitter in the National League up. This also has the makings of a big inning. Lannan does what he does best, throwing a tempting, well-located first pitch that Ramirez rolls into a 6-4-3, scoring the run, but clearing the bases.

Sixth inning, runners on the corners, one out. Emilio Bonafacio is very difficult to double up, and is clearly looking to slap the ball the other way. One run is imminent, except Lannan decides that it is time to roll out two of his six strikeouts to terminate the rally.

This doesn't include the sterling defense turned in night after night by Nyjer Morgan in center, nor does it include MacDougal getting three full count out to collect the save. The have not improved much; they are just doing a better job of playing to their Pythagorean run differential, which is not worst in the league.

The Marlins had owned the Nats for two seasons, right up until the 8th inning Tuesday. I have a hard time believing everything has suddenly changed, but as long as the players do, run with it.

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