Was it that Jason Marquis, a pitcher not good enough to be a starter for the St. Louis Cardinals, finally solved all of his pitching problems, or was it that Cristian Guzman is slowly, but surely, working his hitting magic on the rest of the lineup? Or maybe our hitting is getting progressively worse as the season winds down?
Whatever it was, it looked like the Nationals were a Little League World Series team yesterday. Unable to muster any offense, the Nats managed only two hits against a mediocre pitcher who flirted with a perfect game. Marquis gave up only two hits and no walks and had to throw only 91 pitches as he completely shut down the Nationals' anemic offense. It wasn't like Marquis was overpowering--he struck out only three batters in nine innings--but it didn't matter. The Nationals' offensive performance would be shocking if we hadn't seen them do things similar in the very recent past. Sadly, we're all too familiar with the Nats' futility.
We suspect that the Matt White experiment may be over. He gave up four runs in four innings and looked a lot like Ryan Drese. Oh, and we may be beginning to realize why the Yankees dispensed with Mike Stanton--in his last 5 2/3 innings, he's given up four runs. Ouch.
Still, the Nationals have split the first two games, which is a lot better than the alternative against one of the best teams in baseball. Yes, the Cardinals' have a depleted lineup now, but they're still a lot better than the Nats. If the Nationals can somehow pull today's game out of a hat, this will be a nice antidote to the Cincinnati debacle.