Nationals 4, Royals 3: Second Look

I’m writing this while watching soccer, so no apologies if I start using cool British terms like “dodgy,” “nervy,” or saying something like, “Dreadful ball, that.”

Golden Geese
Josh Willingham: The left fielder had a tremendous night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and blasting his 13th homer (and the 100th of his career) in the fourth inning. Willingham has a .409 on-base percentage and a .915 OPS. His name hasn’t come up much among the Nationals’ possible All-Stars, but it probably should.

Luis Atilano: Atilano had thrown four shutout innings when a 49-minute rain delay halted the game in the middle of a long Nationals rally in the fourth. That meant by the time he got back to the mound, it had been well over an hour since he’d thrown a pitch. But he kept warm by throwing in the tunnel beneath the Nationals’ dugout. That cut down on the number of pitches he was able to throw when he came back out. But Atilano turned in a solid 5 1/3-inning effort, staying in the game long enough to get the ball to the Nationals’ better relievers. He had a good four-seam fastball working, and got through the night without walking a batter.

Ryan Zimmerman: Zimmerman had a couple hits on Tuesday night, including an RBI in the third inning. He’s got a .625 on-base percentage in the last two games, and appears to be coming back from his long slump.

Goose Eggs
You know what? It’s hard to find any. Every Nationals player had a hit or an RBI. All of their pitchers threw well until Matt Capps, who gave up a couple runs, but he still got the save. Even the rain delay was short, and somewhat entertaining. So I don’t really have any. How about this? I’m pretty torqued off at these FIFA refs right now. So they get a Goose Egg. Heck, make it two.

In Case You Missed It:
--In the eighth inning, Jason Kendall hit a high pop-up between second baseman Adam Kennedy and first baseman Adam Dunn. It was an infield fly, so Kendall was out, but Kennedy stepped right in front of Dunn to catch the ball. Dunn stood about two feet behind Kennedy, a bemused expression on his face. “I wasn’t moving, either,” Dunn said. He said he told Kennedy in spring training that he could take any ball that came between the two of them, and apparently he took that fairly literally. “He’s a ballhog,” Dunn joked. “That’s why nobody wants to play with him.”

--The time from the first raindrops to the start of the rain delay was two minutes. It was the quickest I’ve ever seen a game stopped after rain started. Between the sheets of rain and the wind shooting it straight across the field, it quickly became clear it was unsafe to play. But some players missed things altogether. “I didn’t see it. I was taking a piss,” Dunn said. “And then it literally started pissing.”

Talking Points:
1. Does last night make you believe the offense is headed back in the right direction? Or does it seem like an isolated fluke against a bad team?

2. Jim Riggleman keeps saying these series against the Royals and Orioles are no more important than the ones against other teams. Is he being diplomatic, or is he right? How important is it to stock up on wins this week, with a sinister stretch coming up?

OK, “sinister stretch” is a little British. You had to allow me one.

Anyway, leave your answers to the Talking Points in the comments, as usual. Plenty more before today’s 4:35 Strasfest.