Tigers maul the Nationals
Leaving no doubt that they deserved the 2006 AL championship, the Detroit Tigers spoiled the Nationals' return to their home turf last week, sweeping the D.C. team in a three-game series. In the second game, the score was 15-1, the worst defeat ever for the Nationals. Ironically, I was in Northern Virginia that day, and briefly considered squeezing in an evening trip to RFK Stadium, but my schedule wouldn't allow it. How fortunate for me! The last time I saw the Nats play, September 30 last year, they lost 13-0 to the Mets.
Fortunately, the Nationals bounced back in the weekend series against the Indians, taking two out of three games. That was a very difficult home stand, against the top two teams in the very competitive AL Central Division. Until yesterday I hadn't noticed that the Mets have been in a slump lately, which is why the Nationals "climbed" to within nine [games] of the NL East Division leaders. They're still in last place, but they have positioned themselves very well for the latter half of the season, raising hopes that they might finish within close range of the .500 mark, or -- dare we dream? -- even above it!
Guzman's season-ending injury
This has been shortstop Cristian Guzman's best year of his career so far, batting .329, putting him in contention for the All-Star Game. In a bitter twist of fate reminiscent of 2006, however, he tore a ligament in his thumb yesterday, and had surgery on it today. That means the end of the 2007 season for him, which is a shame. Felipe Lopez will replace Guzman at shortstop, and Ronnie Belliard will fill Lopez's spot at second base. As a second-stringer for the Nats, Belliard has shown promising signs, getting several clutch hits. See MLB.com. Now the question becomes, how much will the Nationals' owners be willing to pay Guzman when his contract expires? His terrible 2005 season and his absence during 2006 made General Manager Jim Bowden look bad, but Guzman has redeemed himself and Bowden this year.