Offense comes and goes

When the Nationals stepped off their charter plane Sunday night here in San Francisco, the temperature drop was around 40 degrees from Phoenix to the Bay Area. When they step on the field at AT&T Park Monday night, there will be no telling what the drop, or the leap, will be in hits and runs.

These 2011 Nats are easily the most inconsistent offensive team I've ever followed, but they do catch the ball and the pitching has been solid most of the year, and a ballclub can survive on that.

Sunday afternoon at Chase Field was an afternoon of missed opportunities, hitters on both teams hit by pitches, controversial calls and, ultimately, a big swing by Michael Morse that sent the Nats to Northern California with smiles on their faces.

I heard from a third party that the Arizona TV announcers ripped crew chief Gary Darling for his safe call on Roger Bernadina's high chopper, and replays showed they were probably right. They also took Wilson Ramos to task for his home run trot after he went deep in the eighth inning.

I have, from an impeccable source - me - that the Washington TV announcers took the umpires to task for their, as usual, strange handling of the pitchers hitting batters that happened throughout the game. Once again, the umps have to read minds and determine whether pitchers are intentionally throwing at hitters, and they get themselves in trouble when they warn both dugouts after a HBP (Werth in the 5th), then do nothing when Morse gets hit two batters later. They threw out Jason Marquis and Arizona's Esmerling Vasquez, the same numbers of pitchers from each team even though the Diamondbacks "out-hit" the Nationals three batters to one.

But I digress. The offense that was so dead last weekend at home against the Padres came alive against the Phillies and their vaunted pitching staff, sizzled for one night in Arizona, then went dead for 20 innings before scoring again. Flashes of excitement on the Ramos and Morse homers show once again how fleeting offense is this year, and how it goes bang, then fizzle, then back and forth again.

Catch the ball, throw it to the right bases and hit cutoff men, and pitch well enough to the tune of a 3.73 ERA and you have a chance to win games. It looks like the phony stats of the Steroid Era are now long gone and we're returning to a more pure brand of baseball, based on fundamentals and execution rather than artificial strength ... and I like it!

Now, if the commissioner's office and their umpires will let the players decide things on the field like men, we would really be onto something between the lines and not have the umps using ESP on top of their other tough duties.