Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Stammen Dominates and Nats Get Some Confidence

Going into Tuesday's game against the NL East leading Braves, the Nats had lost 13 of their last 16 games. In that stretch they were swept by the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, and the worst team in all of baseball, the Baltimore Orioles. The Nats became unwatchable. Well on Tuesday, their fates seem to change.

The Nats committed zero errors for only the 2nd time in the last 6 days and scored the most runs (7) that they've scored in more than two weeks. The Nats confidence was shot, and everyone hopes that this one win against the best team in their division will help get the train moving in the right direction.

The big story of the day was Craig Stammen's return to the MLB roster. Stammen was sent down on June 7th to AAA Syracuse to make room for Stephen Strasburg's promotion. In his last start in the majors, Stammen made a strong case to delay his demotion, pitching 6 2/3 innings of 1 run ball. But he was inexplicably pulled after throwing only 66 pitches. The Nats ultimately lost that game in 10 innings after Matt Capps blew a save. But the club's mind was made up. Stammen would be sent down... instead of J.D. Martin... for reasons passing understanding.

In Syracuse, Stammen put together a 2-0 record with a 2.25 ERA. Opposing hitters had a mere .237 average against him. In his June 18th outing against Gwinnett, he took a no-hitter into the 7th inning. It was enough to earn him a spot back on the DC roster when John Lannan had his breakdown and was sent to AA Harrisburg to figure himself out.

On Tuesday, Stammen didn't disappoint in his return to the majors. Stammen improved to 2-2 after throwing 7 1/3 innings of 5 hit, 2 run baseball. He recorded 15 ground ball outs and had his sinker working well enough to generate 4 strikeouts.

After Monday's abysmal error by Ian Desmond, he was on the bench in favor of Alberto Gonzalez on Tuesday. That made for AG's 3rd consecutive start, this time at shortstop. Alberto didn't disappoint. He went 4 for 4 with a run and an RBI. This probably makes the case for AG to stay in the line up for at least another day, although I suspect that Desmond will return to the lineup today. Riggleman isn't known for punishing his starters for more than one game this year. Gonzalez will probably (hopefully) see time at 2nd base.

So the Nats have broken the losing streak with a starting pitcher that wasn't named Strasburg. Zimmerman even got a hit that generated 2 RBI, and Nyjer Morgan bounced back with a 2 for 5 game. Maybe this is what will turn the skid around for the Nats. Only Wednesday's game will tell.

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