Top o' the Hill
A headline writer's dream, this guy. Without further ado, Hill's line (he just came out for a pinch hitter):
5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB (both in first inning), 4 K
His spring ERA is now 1.29 (14 IP/2 ER). He appears healthy. He just needs to carry this into the regular season (and get rid of that shaky first inning, which could have cost him dearly).
Meanwhile, Nationals use a double to the right-center gap from Dmitri Young (pulling away?) and a bloop single from Snelling and a sacrifice bunt from Brito and a walk to pinch-hitter Michael Restovich to load the bases against Hill. That puts Felipe Lopez (spring average coming into this game: .152) in a position to drive in some runs.
Which, on cue, he does. Or at least one. A sharply hit fly ball to center that brought home Young and give the Nationals a 1-0 lead. And then ... OK, let me get to something I've been sitting on for, oh, maybe four hours. Cristian Guzman came to the plate. He hit a hard single to left that drove in Snelling and drove Wolf from the game, giving the Nationals a 2-0 lead.
But I was hanging around the batting cage earlier today (it's kind of like hanging out at that cool kids' bank of lockers in junior high) and a very respected person, upon my asking about how Guzman was swinging the bat, said, "Best I've seen him." I said that seemed about right. Then he said, "More power than I thought. He should hit more than 25 doubles this year."
In his lost 2005, Guzman managed 19 doubles for the Nationals. He has hit 25 or more four times, so I guess it's reasonable. His career-high, twice, is 31.
I've said it all spring (though probably not in this forum): He's the only guy in baseball who could hit .250 and be considered something of a hero, because we know -- oh, how we know -- how bad he can be.
Anyway, all that brought Zim to the plate (debate in my head as to whether it's "Zim" or "Zimm," as I've been writing "Zim" but I got a text msg last night from a player that had "Zim") and he did what .457 hitters do -- singled in a run off Rudy Seanez (ugh). Kearns grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning.
After five: Nationals 3, Dodgers 0
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