May 17, 2007
The Nationals followed up their sweep of the Marlins with a 3-1 series win over the Braves, who were thereby knocked out of first place. That makes six wins over the last seven games, in marked contrast to the first five weeks when they only won consecutive games twice! This time the bullpen gets most of the credit. In Wednesday's game, a total of six relievers held the Braves to just two hits over five innings; Chad Cordero pitched for the first time since he took bereavement leave, and Jon Rauch -- filling in as closer -- earned another save. (He has three now.) In the last two games, the Nats have come from behind to win, and today the two Ryans were the heroes: Zimmerman hit a homer to start the fifth inning (he seems to be coming out of his batting slump), and Church got a three-run double. See MLB.com. The whole team is starting to click, getting clutch hits and occasional flashes of excellence, so maybe they will end up with a respectable record this season after all. Over the long term, of course, most things tend to even out, so perhaps the recent upsurge shouldn't be so surprising.