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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Astros 10, gNats 3

Last week I purchased the board game Strat-o-Matic (mostly for the days when the Astros play early games on the East Coast--most of which I miss--or for off days). (I told you I'm a baseball stats geek.) Although the game features 2005 cards, I'm still playing (roughly) according to the 2006 schedule. That means that the Astros started off with three games against the Marlins (who were much stronger in 2005 than their minor-league counterparts this year), followed by three with the Nationals.

*sigh* I have nothing against the Nationals. I always enjoyed seeing the Expos come to town in the 80's and 90's, and was cheering for them in their quest to win the NL East in 1994. Then came the strike, the new rich-get-richer collective bargaining agreement, and the eventual demise of the Expos.

But I just can't figure out how they won 81 games last year, with that lineup. Yeah, yeah, I know--the Astros lineup was worse, and they managed to win despite their offensive shortcomings. Of course, the Astros had Roy Oswalt, a sold-my-soul-to-the-devil year from Andy Pettitte, and Roger Clemens. The gNats had solid--but unspectacular--starting pitching from the top of their rotation.

Their lineup, though... apart from Nick Johnson, who appeared to be the clear favorite to bat third, and Christian Guzman (whose ridiculously low .260 or so OBP was an embarassment to baseball), there was very little to distinguish anybody else in that lineup. They all hit .240-.260ish. Their OBP and slugging percentages were all roughly the same, and not overly impressive.

This year's record (16-29 so far), even with the addition of Soriano, appears closer to what I'd have expected from this squad. We slaughtered Washington's starting pitching last night; wish I'd been at home early to watch the game, instead of having to listen to the inexperienced duo of Dolan and Raymond. I'm still not used to them, and I just don't think I'll ever consider them to be improvements over Alan Ashby (who got completely jobbed).

Perhaps the gNats will have more to offer offensively against Fernando Nieve, whose stuff has yet to impress me this year.


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