Thursday, May 6, 2010

Scott Olsen is Back

Well this post is about game 28 and the Nats win over the Atlanta Braves, but it's really about Scott Olsen. Before today's near no-hitter, Olsen was 2-1 with a 4.36 ERA. The Nats won in 3 of Olsen's first 4 appearances (his first start was a no decision against Philly). But Olsen's defense was behind him tonight, especially Ian Desmond who made a basket catch and a diving grab for a 6-3 put out, and though he didn't get the decision, he contributed to another Nats win and the Nats are now 4 for 4 when Olsen goes 5 or more innings.

Olsen had 8 Ks on 97 pitches and only one walk in 7 1/3 innings. Finally in the 8th, after striking out Matt Diaz, Scott gave up a line drive hit to the left to David Ross. Did Olsen then look dejected or angry? No way. He gave a smile, looked at Ian Desmond and said, "c'mon, 2 more." He wanted to keep going and get out of the inning. 17,000+ fans at Nationals Park gave Scott the standing ovation, and it was well deserved.

Since his last bad outing against Colorado on April 20th where Olsen only made it 2 innings, he has seen his ERA go from 11.74 to 3.54 in just 3 starts since then. He has been remarkably effective in his last 3 games: 20 strikeouts, only 5 walks, and 2 runs; both of them earned today after Tyler Clippard's below average relief appearance. Before those 2 runs, Tyler went 20 innings without allowing a single run. That's just the beginning of his improvements.

In the spring, Olsen was throwing his fastball in the 80s with little to no movement. Now, his fastball is hitting 92 consistently, they're dancing around. His change up is making other hitters look silly. It's exciting to watch the young lefty get back to his old ways. Looks like, as usual, Mike Rizzo knew what he was doing when he brought back the not-completely-healthy Olsen before spring training.

The game ended in the bottom of the 9th after a very patient at bat by Adam Kennedy, who drew a walk. Then Gentleman Zimm came up and faced Peter Moylan. Remember him, Nats fans? Rewind to Nats Park, March 30, 2008. Ryan Zimmerman drills a walk off home run to the Red Porch to win the first ever game at Nats Park against... the Braves peter Moylan. Back to tonight, Zimmerman crushed a double off of the right field wall, advancing Adam Kennedy to 3rd, with no outs. Moylan intentionally walked pinch-hitter Cristian Guzman to bring up the Georgia Peach Willie Harris. Harris had a great at bat and a game winning, walk off single past the 2nd baseman Martin Prado.

The Nats are now 15-13 for 2nd place in the NL East. The team has won 5 series this season, but the Marlins are coming to town, who the Nats lost 2 of 3 against just last weekend. Hopefully they can flip it in the upcoming series. Until then, congrats to Scott Olsen on a great outing and a near historic night.

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