Some weeks, you’re George, some weeks, you’re Teddy.
The Nationals (40-41) return home on Friday night after a 2-4 road trip, and carrying a 3-game losing streak, having been swept in Los Angeles. Things have not quite gone as imagined during the aftermath of Jim Riggleman’s Sarah Palin-esque departure. Ahead of the All-Star Break, the Nationals play 11 games in 10 days starting Friday night.
These 11 games before the All-Star Break are pretty critical to the season, but there’s many reasons for hope, Natstown. Let’s look at what we’re up against, shall we?
First Up: The Pirates
While in many seasons past, the Pirates were a hapless bunch. You might remember them from such famous games in Nats history as Strasmas, when the rookie phenom torched through the Pirates order like Steve Jobs in the Mobile Me conference room. (What, too obscure?) Suffice it to say that is not the case this season, and the Pirates come to Washington a game over .500, but they’ve done it on some very hot bats. While the Pirates offense has been lively this season, their starting pitching hasn’t quite kept pace. The team has give up 30 runs in their last 7 games, which is the sort of staff the struggling Nats offense might be able to use to spring back to life.
Then On To… The Cubs!
Well, thank God for small favors. After four games in three days against the Pirates, who make for good competition, the Cubs (33-48) come to town, clutching desperately to relevance, and fifteen games below .500 (sorry, Rachel). While they’re not as bad as the Astros, the Cubs have been pretty dismal of late, surrendering 20 runs to the Giants just day before yesterday. While I’m not getting out my broom just yet, I would expect three wins against the little bears.
And then finally, the Rockies.
Last, but certainly not least, the Rockies are coming to DC right before the All-Star Break for a three game stint. While they’re just a game over .500, the Rockies have not been the thriftiest with opposing teams, while the Nationals’ starting pitcher has remained quite solid. It’s too early to talk about pitching matchups or offensive stances here, so we’ll revisit that as Sam and Rachel cover the show over the next 11 days. My gut? Says they’re going to split this homestand pretty even up, winning 2 against the Bucs, 3 against the Cubs, and at least 1 against the Rockies to go 6-5 into the All-Star Break, but a lot depends on if Jayson Werth can find his groove (maybe it was in his beard?) and if they can begin to put some hits together. That would put the team at a solid 46-46 at the break, which is about six games ahead of where I thought they’d be at the beginning of the season.
Of course, there’s just as many reasons to believe they’ll split both 4 game series and drop two to the Rockies, which would mean a 44-48 record at the break. There are far too many question marks in this lineup now for the crystal ball to be anything but hazy. As Davey Johnson finds his day-to-day groove, it will be quite fascinating to watch this team take shape with a proven veteran leader filling out the lineup card.
Who doesn’t love a good promo? There are a couple of free hats this time around, including a patriotic hat on the 4th of July, and another red-white-and-blue hat on the 8th. The team will have fireworks display on Saturday the 2nd, thanks to Captain America.
In addition, there will be a free t-shirt courtesy of the Post on Saturday afternoon for the 3:35pm start (which won’t be televised because Fox is a bunch of poopyheads).
Wednesday’s game on the 6th will give you a reason to pony up for Diamond Club and Presidents Club seats, so you can taste Sam Adams with its brewer and founder, Jim Koch. Don’t worry, DC, he’s not one of those Koch brothers (is he?)
Saturday the 9th is one of the unique things that the Nationals do, and they’re hosting NATS U: Baseball for Women, with an in-depth and hands-on experience for both novice and advanced fans. Want to know the difference between a two-seam and four-seam fastball, but don’t want to ask around the guys? This is a safe place to learn, especially since Dibble won’t be anywhere near Nats Park that day. I can’t say enough good things about this program, it’s been super successful in the past.
See you at Nats Park!