October 18, 2007 [LINK / comment]
Nationals 2007: Year in review
The Washington Nationals began their third year with decidedly lower expectations, as the new owners made it clear that they were devoting most of their resources to rebuilding the franchise's decrepit farm system. Yet against all odds, the motley crew of nobodies, has-beens, and wanna-be's finished the 2007 season with a better win-loss record than eight other teams. The biggest surprise was that the pitching rotation performed quite well for the most part, as Jason Bergman, Matt Chico, and even Jason Simontacchi earned plaudits. (Some of the rookies will need more practice in the minors.) Dmitri Young, signed as an (unwanted) free agent to fill in for first baseman Nick Johnson (recovering from a broken leg), was leading in the NL batting race for several weeks, and was the sole National chosen for the 2007 All Star Game. At the end of the season he was named the NL Comeback Player of the Year. It was pretty ugly early in the season, however, as the Nationals lost nine of their first ten games, and then lost the first eight games in May. It appeared that the worst-case scenario was coming to pass, with the Nationals doing even worse than the 2003 Tigers (43-119). But from May 11 on, they played very respectably, for the most part, winning exactly half of their games for the rest of the season (64-64). The high point was in early August, when they had a six-game winning streak. The road trip at the end of that month was brutal, however, as they got swept by the Rockies and then the Dodgers. In late September the Nats played the role of spoiler in several key games with the Mets and Phillies, having the final say in who won the National League East divisional title. It brought them a lot of favorable attention, and for the first time they ended up the season out of the cellar, taking fourth place, three games ahead of the Marlins. All in all, not too shabby.
- Apr. 4 -- Dmitri Young game-winning RBI, as Marlins left fielder lets the ball drop; Nats' only win of the of the first ten games.
- May 12 -- Ryan Zimmerman grand slam in bottom of 9th; Nats beat Marlins 7-3.
- May 14 -- Jason Bergman allowed no hits for 7 innings; Nats beat Braves 2-1.
- May 23 -- Ryan Church 2 home runs, 6 RBI; Nats beat Red 12-7. (away)
- July 4 -- Dmitri Young grand slam; Nats beat Cubs 6-0.
- Aug. 4 -- Ryan Zimmerman two upper-deck home runs; Nats beat Cards 12-1. (I was there!)
- Aug. 7 -- Barry Bonds 756th home run off Scott Bacsik; Nats beat Giants 8-6. (away)
- Aug. 11 -- Nats hit 3 home runs in 6th inning, but lose to D-backs 11-4. (away)
- Sep. 23 -- 40,519 (-) fans attend last game in RFK Stadium; Nats beat Phillies, 5-3.
- Sep. 26 -- Nats complete 3-game sweep of Mets, who fall into 2nd place. (away)
(Home games unless indicated by "away.") Other moments we would just as soon forget. The following summary table has been included on the new Washington Nationals page, and can also be compared to the table I compiled last year. While I was at it, I also revised the Baseball in D.C. and Baseball in D.C. news chronology pages.
|Month||Wins||Losses||NL East place
SOURCE: My unofficial daily tabulations from MLB Gameday stats and Washington Post.
Red Sox in peril
The Cleveland Indians will try to nail down the AL pennant at home in Jacobs Field this evening, and it's a do-or-die situation for the Red Sox. Is Manny Ramirez worried? Not a bit. In fact, he is acting quite nonchalant about the prospect of elimination. See MLB.com.
Hunter to D.C.?
Minnesota Twins star Torii Hunter said he wouldn't mind playing for the Washington Nationals next year, partly because Dmitri Young is a good friend of his. The problem is, the Nationals owners would be reluctant to pay him as much as he could get from other teams. See MLB.com.