Nats Start Hitting after 2 Good Hitters Unloaded? Raised Eyebrows

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Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, August 23.
The word “counterintuitive” has been added to our language in the last few years. A common example taken from true life is, if you use only a smidge of tooth binder and hit just the right places, it will hold a denture in place more tightly than if you use a lot of the binder. It seems like more would be better than less, but I’ve been told repeatedly since I got the denture that I should only use a smidge. So how does that apply to baseball? In recent days, two of the Washington Nationals’ better hitters have been unloaded. Daniel Murphy, the second baseman the Mets foolishly let get away has been sent on from DC to Chicago. St. Louis found themselves in a spot when Dexter Fowler broke a foot. The answer? Call Washington. Much like the government bailing out a savings-and-loan, the Nats sent Matt Adams to St. Louis to assist with what will probably be a futile run in the National League central. This looked like a white flag being waved over Washington in a season when they began as a prohibitive favorite to win the NL East.
With those two stars gone it looked like the Nats would start to head down towards the Mets and Marlins. But the Nats have started to win, including an 8-7 walk-off winner last night. For one thing, Bryce Harper has hit .364 since the All-Star break after a biblically bad start. In last night’s game he had 3 more hits, an RBI and two runs scored. It doesn’t hurt that the Phillies look like making the collapse I’ve been predicting all year, leaving the East to the Braves. Last night was one of the more strange endings you’ll see though it would have been routine a few years ago. With the Phillies ahead 7-6, Juan Soto doubled and Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off home run. He does that more often than most, particularly around Washington for whom he’s hit 11 walk-off dingers. A few years ago that would have been the end of that. But in this age of replay, the Phillies’ rookie manager tried to plead his case that somehow it wasn’t a home run. At long last after an unseemly delay the home run was verified and the fans could and did celebrate. The Nats had to be careful the inexperienced and possibly adolescent Juan Soto didn’t touch Murphy before Murphy touched home plate. Had Soto made contact Murphy would have been declared out.
Earlier in the evening Stephen Strasburg came off the DL and got rocked for 5 runs and 7 hits in just 4 innings. His fastball had nothing on it. He blamed rust since he hasn’t pitched in two months. The Phillies stormed ahead with 3 in the first and one each in the third and 4th sending Strasburg packing. Washington kept pace with 1 in the first, 3 in the third and one in the 4th which squared things at 5-5. The Phillies notched single runs in the 6 and 7th and prayed. The Nats tallied once in the 8th before Zimmerman’s heroics on their last atbat. The teams square off at 1 PM with Max Scherzer facing Aaron Nola, a true battle of two possible Cy Young candidates.

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