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Guess the Rotation, Round 2 Results

LINEUPS ADDED EDITION:

Washington:
Lopez -- 4
Guzman -- 6
Zimmerman -- 5
Young -- 3
Kearns -- 9
Schneider -- 2
Logan -- 8
Langerhans -- 7
Chico -- 1

So Church needs more than one day off, apparently, with the bruised forearm. The Reds, meantime, put Josh Hamilton on the DL with an illness that had him hospitalized over the weekend in Cleveland. They called up Edwin Encarnacion, who hurt the Nationals last year, if I recall correctly.

Cincinnati:
Freel -- 8
Gonzalez -- 6
Griffey Jr. -- 9 (next homer ties Harmon Killebrew for eighth all-time)
Phillips -- 4
Conine -- 3
Dunn -- 7 (slugging .636 against right-handers, .397 against lefties)
Encarnacion -- 5
Ross -- 2
Saarloos -- 1


So it doesn't get a lot tougher than that one last night. Consider:

· The Nationals had been 9-1 in games in which they scored at least five runs, an indication of how surprisingly competitive their pitching has been.
· They scored four runs in the first, sending 10 men to the plate in an inning for the first time since last August 16 against Philadelphia. The four runs in the first last night now represents a quarter of the Nationals' 16 first-inning runs all year. (They have scored only nine runs in the third inning.)
· Winston Abreu had the best outing of his brief major league career. Only once before had he thrown three innings, last September with Baltimore against Oakland, and in that outing he allowed two hits and a walk. This time, he allowed a one-out single in the fourth, got a double play ball, then blew threw the final six men he faced. Three innings, nine men.
· Had the Nationals protected the six-run lead, they would have tied Cincinnati for the worst record in the National League, with the opportunity to pass them this week. In fact, if the rotation was in any sort of healthy condition at all, the Nationals might be able to pass two teams this week. Right now, the "standings" at the bottom look like this:

Cincinnati 18-27 .400
St. Louis 16-25 .390
Washington 16-28 .356

The Royals, incidentally, are 17-28 (.378), so the Nationals are only a half-game back of them. Not that Manny Acta thinks that's important.

"We're not getting up in the morning every day looking at what the Royals did or what the Reds did or the Cardinals because we don't want to be the worst team in the major leagues," Acta said before last night's game. "We're just trying to get better as a team every day. We're not actually trying to prove everybody wrong about what is being said about us. We just want to get better as a team."

I think last night, surprisingly, is the first game you can say the Nationals absolutely lost because the rotation is in shambles. Yes, it ultimately came down to Jon Rauch's three-run eighth, and Rauch was very frustrated with himself after the game. But if the rotation was healthy, Shawn Hill would've been the starter last night, not Levale Speigner. Think he could have protected a 6-0 lead? Uh, considering he hadn't allowed more than three runs in a game all year, I think the odds are pretty good. Lock it down.

One other thing before we get to our little game. The missed fly ball that fell between Austin Kearns and Nook Logan in the eighth - a ball that became an RBI double for Scott Hatteberg - was a ball that either of the players could have caught. But they're running full speed directly toward each other. As Logan said afterward (of Kearns), "That's a pretty big guy."

I asked Kearns if there are any lingering effects of the collision with Nick Johnson last year that broke Johnson's leg, wondering if he thinks about that on those tweener balls in which he might run into people. Does it affect him still?

"If I sit here and think about it, yeah, it will," Kearns said. "But at the time, you're just going on instincts. I think that's what we both were doing. I knew he was over toward left-center, so I thought that might be a ball that was mine, and that's why I was calling it. ... By the time I heard him, it was too late."

If you want to further digest this one, here's the gamer, the notebook about another guy returning to the Queen City, and the podcast page. Enjoy.

Now, for the results of Guess the Rotation, Round 2. For our purposes, we'll make this the pitchers who start the first five games after the all-star break, because that's when Acta will be able to re-set his guys in the order that he wants them as the team goes into a three-game series in Florida.

Scoring: I did a sliding scale (the same way I did in spring training, I think), so a guy got five points for a first-place vote, four for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth. In the standings, first-place votes are in parentheses.

Shawn Hill - 87 points (11 first-place votes)
Matt Chico - 83 (6)
Jason Bergmann - 79 (2)
Jason Simontacchi - 54
John Patterson - 30 (5)
Mike Bacsik - 13
Billy Traber - 10
Mike O'Connor - 9
Joel Hanrahan - 5
Tim Redding - 2
Levale Speigner - 2
Micah Bowie - 2
Mike Hinckley - 1
Jesus Colome - 1
Escaped Fraternity Boy from Nat Pack - 1
Svrluga - 1
Raccoon from Spring Training - 1

Some interesting notes. Chico appeared on the most ballots (25), followed by Simontacchi (23), an indication that they figure to be the healthiest. They were followed by Bergmann (21) and Hill (20). Perhaps the most interesting: John Patterson appeared on only seven ballots (six more than the raccoon). He got five first-place votes, meaning that people figure if he's healthy, he's the top guy. But it seems people just don't think he'll be healthy.

Remind me of all this coming out of the all-star break, by the way.

One final thing: Remember I wrote yesterday that Ryan Zimmerman said over the weekend that he felt as good as he has in his career. Well, he had five at-bats last night, and he absolutely smoked the ball in four of them. He's now 5 for 9 in his last two games with three doubles and a homer. Average up to a modest .255, but it kind of reminds me of a point last year when Zimmerman drilled a double and Boz, sitting next to me in the press box at RFK, said kind of casually, "Well, that's the last time he'll see .270," meaning his average would stay above it the rest of the year. I thought Boz was crazy at the time (this happens occasionally), but as usual, he was prophetic.

Perhaps Zimm has steadied himself.

Talk to you later. I'll try to get you lineups this time.

By Barry Svrluga  |  May 22, 2007; 11:55 AM ET
 
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Next: The case for the bullpen

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