Back on June 6th, the Nats were about to embark on an important stretch of their season. With a lead in the NL East as thin as Frank's patience, I advised them to harvest their nuts while they took on the soft underbelly of the AL West, our chosen interleague rivals for 2005. They did more than that. They swept Seattle and Oakland and battled to a 3-3 draw against the division's good teams. After the interleague romp, we took two of three from the reasonably tough Pirates, thanks to the righteous fury of an outfielder scorned (more on that later). The division lead is up to three games, but only because the Phillies keep winning. Consider the nuts fully harvested and stuffed in our twitching, furry cheeks.
And now we're on easy street. On their last homestand, the Nats proved themselves nearly unbeateable -- you may remember it. There was a lot "Bang! Zoom!" and Chad Cordero almost-blown saves and many doubles. To me, it's all kind of a blur of knowing we were going to win. It felt good. Based on that, I expect these next six games against the Blue Jays (our traditional AL rivals!) and Pirates to result in about seven wins and another two games tacked on to our lead. I've been trying to tell myself that the Nats are more lucky than good, and I really believe that on a certain level. But on another, less thinking level, it's been a long time since I saw this team lose at RFK, and that has conditioned me in a Pavlovian manner to expect wins. Indeed, to drool for them.
We all know that Jose Guillen is tempermental and mercurial. That's a nice way of saying he'll punch you in the face if you disrespect him, intentionally or otherwise. Some say he's the heart and soul of the team. I like to think that the heart and soul of my favorite team isn't made up of a hypersensitive, walk-deficient prima donna like Guillen, but it's a nebulous enough term that it probably doesn't matter. Anyway, Guillen had a lot to do with our victory in Pittsburgh, and it's probably not coincidence that the Pirates are the very team that drafted him, brought him to the majors too early, and unceremoniously dumped him on the Devil Rays. In fact, Jose has had the opportunity to play for an unusual number of teams: seven, including the Nationals, five of whom we've already played this year. Has it made any difference? You tell me (keeping in mind that my OBP calculations are little off because I couldn't figure out when he hit his sac flies):
Versus Angels, Diamondbacks, Reds, A's, and Pirates:
.329/.380/.671, 4 2B, 7 HR, 12 RBI in 73 AB
Versus Everyone Else:
.293/.341/.372, 9 2B, 8 HR, 29 RBI in 191 AB
Well! Normally, he hits like Paul Lo Duca, but when confronted with a team that has disrespected him, he turns into Miguel Tejada. Except, you know, not as likeable. Tampa Bay should be grateful that it has so many games against those patsies in New York and none against us -- can you imagine what Jose would do to the team that released him? Ask Mike Scioscia, if his therapist will let him talk about it yet. The bad news here is that after the Pirates series next week, we don't see another Guillen-jilting team until the Reds on August 23rd. We can only hope that Vinny's mad at the Braves.