Some of you may know this but for those that don't Washington DC has become a second home to me. I was there for the Nationals inaugural season in 2005 and I grew fond of those teams in a way. I saw a lot of Livan Hernandez starts at RFK and I was fortunate enough to cover the playoffs this past October.
I guess you can say I have a soft spot for the Nats, but that's neither here nor there. I figured the up front approach here would be appreciated.
The Nationals are experiencing an incredibly dissappointing season. During Spring Training Davey Johnson declared that this year would be "World Series or bust," for the former Expos. After a decent start the team fell into the tank as their offense collapsed and the bullpen regressed.
When reached to update his Spring Training comments Davey said, "It Looks More Like 'Bust'," which kind of summed it all up right there.
Washington took 3 of 4 against the Cubs during the most recent homestand. In the midst of it all David DeJesus was traded to the Nats for cash and was summarily waived by Washington and will likely join the Tampa Bay Rays next.
It's been a weird week so far, let's recap it.
Gm 1. Cubs 11, Nats 1
Shark shoved as he posted a 9.0/6/1/1/0/5 pitching line. Washington's starter, Jordan Zimmerman, was bombed for 8 runs as it looked for a brief moment like the Cubs offense would get rolling. Zimmerman was on a hot streak entering the game.
The legend of Donnie Murphy grew as well. Murphy blasted two solo shots in the game.
Gm 2. Nats 4, Cubs 2
In the aftermath of the Carlos Marmol situation there's been a lot written about how stupid it was to pull Marmol off the table as he was to be traded to the Angels for Dan Haren. The Cubs reviewed Haren's medicals and did not like something they saw in his shoulder and ultimately nixed the trade in the final stages.
Haren became a national, struggled early despite an absurd K-BB ratio and is just recently finding a run of success with Washington.
Carlos Marmol, on the other hand, was traded to the Dodgers for Matt Guerrier. Marmol was eventually DFA'd and for all intents and purposes the Cubs missed an opportunity.
This was put under the microscope on Tuesday as Haren shut down a weak hitting Cubs lineup to the tune of a 6.0/5/1/1/0/6 pitching line.
I think the final result of this decision was bad, but I also think the thought process was sound. If there's a red flag on the shoulder then I don't blame organizations for not biting on a pitcher.
The Cubs lost but the story of the game was Starlin Castro hitting in the 8 hole. Castro took exception to the demotion in the lineup which caused CubsDen to wonder if there was a rift between Sveum and the shortstop.
Gm 3. Nats 11, Cubs 6
Jayson Werth and former Cub Scott Hairston torched Jake Arrieta and the bullpen. The Cubs managed to come back from a 5 run deficit with 5 runs in the 5th, but James Russell and Hector Rondon could not stem the Nats offense as Washington scored 3 in the 7th and 2 in the 8th to put the game away.
The Cubs did threaten in the bottom of the 9th but Anthony Rizzo committed a TOOTBLAN of epic proportions and was thrown out trying to score.
The surprise here was the lineup shakeup that occured just a day after Castro was slotted to the 8 hole. Castro lead off and Anthony Rizzo hit second as the struggling Cubs tried to find some offense.
Now, I like the move as it provides two struggling youngsters more ABs to try and get out of their season long funks.
Gm 4. Nats 5, Cubs 4
It's a joy to watch Stephen Strasburg throw a baseball. He was dominant over 8 innings with a crisp breaking ball, a ghastly change and a riding fastball all working in concert.
He ran into big trouble in the 9th as he was trying to get a complete game when Donnie Murphy homered to tie the game. Sometimes fake rallies are real rallies.
The Cubs were once again employing their Castro-Rizzo 1-2 punch but the two went a collective 0-11 with 1 BB. Castro also snapped a career high 29 game errorless streak.
Washington has talent, the Cubs don't have much of it. Dropping 3/4 is disheartening especially when you come back and tie up game 4 in the 9th off a great pitcher but so it goes.
It's hard to imagine how this team will end up, they've played a tough stretch of games that dropped their Run Differential down to expected numbers. September softens up a bit and I expect the Cubs to get to 70 wins but that's a bad trophy to aspire for.
Realistically I'm looking forward to the September callups and all of the offseason activity.
Cubs play San Diego next.