Tonight's first game.
We really need the pitching staff that has been the bedrock of our team to lead the way tonight. If the Nationals are to win the Wild Card Race (we never know whether to capitalize those words) their starting pitching staff will have to pitch well. The Nationals don't hit well enough to come back from big deficits, and, as much as we think the Deivi Cruz deal was a good trade, that's not going to change. So the starters will have to pitch deep into most games and give up no more than 2-3 runs, preferably 2.
Esteban Loiza and Livan Hernandez pitch tonight for the Nationals. Each has played a big part in the team's success, but each has faltered somewhat down the stretch. We need them to pitch like they did in the first half and to quiet the Braves' offense. Let's hope for a return to form.
The lineup for the first game isn't pretty. Marlon Byrd leads off, he of the .588 OPS and -4.9 VORP. We'll have to live with Cristian Guzman for a bit longer because he's starting tonight. It will be nice to have a regular shortstop with a positive VORP as opposed to one who excels at ending an inning. To make matters worse, Gary Bennett is starting the first game at catcher. Ugh!