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The Wrap: NL

NL Quote of the Night:

"I think they brought a whole new case of balls in for that at-bat. I threw everything. I threw my whole repertoire. I threw curveballs early in the at-bat, I threw sliders, I threw sinkers, I threw four-seamers, I was like, 'Man, I wonder what pitch can I invent to throw up there?' I didn't know if I should go sidearm or underhanded to him."

-- Astros reliever Chris Sampson, on a key at-bat against Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez.

Nationals 8, Phillies 2
Finally! A win! And four home runs! And a strong pitching performance (and didn't we all secretly want Shairon Martis to come through with a big game to keep his confidence up? What a huge outing). And clutch relief in a pinch. And, well, you get the idea. Finally, slugger Adam Dunn had something to pump his fist about. Of course, since you've read this and this, not to mention this, you already knew all this already. Touche Nats fans, touche.

Marlins 6, Braves 2
Well folks, the fish really are that good. After a perfunctory sweep of the Braves that made their season-opening sweep of the Nats look matter-of-fact, the Marlins are, far and away, the major league's best team by record. They're also crushing everything thrown at them, which makes concern over the spring training homer of Hanley Ramirez and co. pretty silly. Equally important, Florida proved it could win when one of its pitchers doesn't have his best stuff. Even though he made it through six innings, Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez was the first to admit that he was missing a little something yesterday.

Astros 6, Pirates 3
Is Lance Berkman one of the least appreciated power hitters in the game or what? All he does, year after year, is mash home runs. Initially, he did it while protected by Jeff Bagwell and set up by Craig Biggio. Now he's doing it with one other potential power threat of an established bat (Carlos Lee) and very little else to lean back on. And you know what? It hardly even matters. Ask Pittsburgh reliever Sean Burnett, who had the misfortune of facing Berkman with men on base in a key spot. Needless to say, he took him deep. Sorry Sean, better luck next time.

Cardinals 7, Cubs 4

You almost have to keep a running score of heated traditional rivalries like the one between St. Louis and Chicago, right? Well, chalk one up for the Cards. And St. Louis didn't even have to follow the traditional "pitch and pray for Albert" model, getting clutch contributions from Shelley Duncan and sitting back to watch the Cubs implode, a development which included the first -- but almost certainly not the last -- case of outfielder Milton Bradley getting himself ejected for arguing strikes. Buckle up Cubs fans, 15 more Cardinals games to go ...

Padres 6, Mets 5
Yes, it's early, but Mets fans are worried. And you know what? They have reason to be. After handing starter John Maine a 3-0 lead after the first inning, New York couldn't handle prosperity, shipping five runs off to the Padres in third and never quite catching up from there. That set the stage for Jake Peavy to steal his second win of the year, despite clearly pitching with less than his best stuff. Peavy's final line: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER. Not great, but that's better than Maine: 5 IP, 7 H, 6 ER. Ouch. That shows you which offense is more efficient right now, doesn't it?

Dodgers 7, Giants 2

How long until we get to write a theme song dedicated to Barry Zito's all-time horrendous contract? After absorbing yet another beating from the hated Dodgers -- Zito is now 0-2 on the season -- the lefty curveballer and his teammates stand at 2-7, with an atrocious 0-6 record on the road. Maybe the Nats will have company near the foot of the NL, particularly if Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum (two rough starts), Randy Johnson (now he actually does look old) and Zito don't turn things around. And if one game in which Zito gives up more runs (six) than he gets through innings (five) was depressing enough, think about this, Giants fans: The team has four more years on Zito's $126 million deal! Whoopee!

By Cameron Smith  |  April 17, 2009; 7:50 AM ET
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Next: The Wrap: AL


Berkman's not just underappreciated as a power hitter; he's underappreciated as a hitter in general.

He hit .312 last year with a .420 OBP. 46 doubles and 106 RBI to boot. The guy's fun to watch.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 17, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

"...and didn't we all secretly want Shairon Martis to come through with a big game to keep his confidence up?"

Secretly? You're funny. And, uh, yea, right. We wanted the good outing for his "confidence," that's it. :D

Posted by: NatsNut | April 17, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

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