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Thoroughly bad-bad-bad pain

Two games now, two tough-guy performances from Nats starters. I only learned about Odalis Perez's adventures after the game last night, which is why no mention of his emergency root canal -- just hours before he pitched -- appeared in the Erstwhile .35 Cent Edition. But read about it here.

Considering that Perez --

a.) had slept for two hours the previous night

b.) spent five hours in a dentist's chair Wednesday morning

and, c.) was taking the mound while riddled with painkillers

-- I think it's safe to say this was more noteworthy than your typical 6-1/3 inning game.

Though he didn't get the same love in the story, it's worth mentioning the importance of Luis Ayala. By the time he entered in the seventh inning, the Padres had closed the gap: a 6-1 lead had just shrunk into a 6-4 lead, and though the crowd at Petco was again under 20,000, everybody there was kind of bubbling with the anticipation of a comeback. Ayala came in mid-inning. With the middle of San Diego's lineup due to bat.

Ayala recorded the next five outs without allowing a hit.

Take this as either a sign of faith in Ayala or a lack of faith in the other bullpen options, but when Ayala's batting spot came in the top of the eighth, Manny Acta told Ayala to bat. (Yes, with two runners on base!)

Unconventional. And risky. And in this case, helpful.

Nats go for the series win today.

By Chico Harlan  |  May 29, 2008; 10:42 AM ET
 
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Comments

Either San Diego has the dumbest fans in the world, or Petco generates (or amplifies) crowd noise to make up for the lack of actual fans -- I've never heard such loud cheering for routine fly balls in my life. Anything that made in the air into the outfield, you'd think it was going upper deck by the crowd reaction.

Posted by: joebleux | May 29, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Not sure if this has been brought up before (I apologize for not checking), and it's not even a small likability of happening - just saying, what if.

Odalis' start last night had to be forfeited because he got drug tested and it came up positive for his pain killers. I'm not sure what the MLB banned-substances list is like, but I know the NCAA banned-substances list is absurd.

If that were to happen, we could just quit the season on account of never-ending bad luck.

Posted by: Corey | May 29, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Gives new meaning to "performance-enhancing drugs".

I'm still thankful for Guzman's "performance-enhancing" Lasik surgery.

Posted by: PEDs | May 29, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

The man's earning that major league paycheck. Still, Carlos Guillen would have to say, "You think *you're* playing with pain?

Posted by: John in PA | May 29, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

painkillers are not the same kinds of substances as PEDs.

Posted by: 231 | May 29, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Normally, I don't like the Sac Bunt, but with Ayala batting, I'd put the sac on and hope for the best.

Ayala has only 14 ABs in 283 games, but he is a career .286 hitter.

Posted by: Mark, Alex., VA | May 29, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

natsfan1a, you were right on on all four counts: Perez's blood and guts, fighting tooth and nail. ha ha

He had a thumbnail problem earlier, right? And then he pitched the day he was sick and vomited between innings. And now a root canal.

Is the PR department making all this stuff up to make him superman? Because the stories keep getting better.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 29, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

"I've never heard such loud cheering for routine fly balls in my life"

Non-Carpenter division, you mean?

Posted by: Chris | May 29, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

If Chico were any kind of reporter, he would have routinely been calling the Nats team dentist so that we would know of this development before the game.

Posted by: ghost of Matt | May 29, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I said at the beginning of the season (spring training really) that Perez was a mediocre pitcher. I still think he's pretty mediocre, but, wow, he's tough. I'll take it! It's all very Livo-esque. On another note, they need to send those two relief pitchers back down - ouch! I was so happy to see Ayala come in last night. My husband thought I was a little crazy as I was shouting at my laptop to "take Sanches out!"

Posted by: Patty | May 29, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

My red-headed, Cubs-fan girlfriend just pointed out that we had to leave the stadium two weeks ago, because I couldn't even WATCH the game with a toothache.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 29, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

The Gamer is #4 in most viewed stories, even though there is no link to it (that I saw) from the front page. The Doping in Cyling story which is #1 is linked under the headline "More Top Stories." If the gamer were linked there, it would likely be #1. The fact that people go past the front page to read it shows readiness to go to some trouble to read about the Nats.

Posted by: flynnie | May 29, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

..."the Erstwhile .35 Cent Edition"

it hasn't always been $.35.

Posted by: Just sayin | May 29, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Just saw that awkward video of Mariah Carey throwing out the first pitch in Japan.

More entertaining, however, was one of the first comments posted in response to the video:

"She reminds me of Aaron Heilman."

Posted by: John in Mpls | May 29, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

And did we mention he's hitting .250, sixth-best on the roster?

In ten starts, he's never failed to go five innings. He's given up 4 runs once, and 6 runs once. On a team that scored any runs at all he'd probably be 6-2 instead of 2-3.

Posted by: OP's primo | May 29, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I have to wonder *when* the Nats' bullpen is going to break down for good. I'm talking about Ayala, Rivera and Rauch who more often than not get used nightly. The lack of innings-eating pitchers is going to kill the pen in the second half, if not before.
Mr. 60-mph Chad Cordero ain't coming back to his previous self, so this arrangement will go on for a long time.

Posted by: Section 408 | May 29, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"Non-Carpenter division, you mean?"

Well, sure. Nobody competes with Bob in the How-far-is-THAT-going class...

Posted by: joebleux | May 29, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Although, to be fair, if they weren't always trying to hold a one-run lead for four innings, it might give Manny a little more latitude with the pen.

*********
I have to wonder *when* the Nats' bullpen is going to break down for good. I'm talking about Ayala, Rivera and Rauch who more often than not get used nightly. The lack of innings-eating pitchers is going to kill the pen in the second half, if not before.
Mr. 60-mph Chad Cordero ain't coming back to his previous self, so this arrangement will go on for a long time.

Posted by: Section 408 | May 29, 2008 1:26 PM

Posted by: CE | May 29, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Its not a lack of "inning eating" starter(s) that is causing over use of Ayala and Rauch, but a lack of offense limiting the number of mop up win appearances by other relieves and a lack of usable alternatives to Ayala and Rauch in the bullpen (I'm talking about you Hanrahan, Colome, Manning and Sanches).

Posted by: estuartj | May 29, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Dentist and Nats fan... if it took a dentist 5 hours for a root canal then he went to the worst dentist in the world... plus he would give him novocaine that would last for around 12 hours... brave performance but not as heroic as you'd like to make it sound

Posted by: Tom | May 29, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

You mean Shawn Hill isn't the only player to play in pain! Now that's a headline.

Posted by: Ouch | May 29, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

It's like a ghost town.

GO NATS!!!!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 29, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Amen. I just ran across this while waiting for the game to start on CBS Sportsline:

"I can see better now," he says. "I can see the numbers on the scoreboard. When I'm driving, it's more clear."

And when the baseball is speeding toward him when he's in the batter's box, he can pick up the seams and see the ball's rotation.

"It's helped a lot," Guzman says.

Helped a heck of a lot more than the two months he spent flailing away taking those contact lenses for a test drive in '05, he'll tell you that.

"I was still having trouble even with the contacts," he says. "I didn't feel comfortable. It felt like something was in my eyes.

"I can't concentrate with contacts."

Now, since his return in '07 -- slowly at first with the hamstring and thumb, full-bore so far in '08 -- Guzman, still switch-hitting, has batted .313 with 22 doubles and eight triples in 97 games.

http://cbs.sportsline.com/print/mlb/story/10845086
_______________________________
I'm still thankful for Guzman's "performance-enhancing" Lasik surgery.

Posted by: PEDs | May 29, 2008 10:54 AM

Posted by: Scott in Shaw | May 29, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Game starts in 45 minutes.

I love day games.

Lineups?

Posted by: John in Mpls | May 29, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

ask and you shall receive.

Posted by: lineups | May 29, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of lineups, new post!

Posted by: John in Mpls | May 29, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Who would you want in a tight spot?

ERA 3.97 or 4.45
BAA .202 or .263
SLG .336 or .404
WHIP .138 or .135

Posted by: kranny | May 29, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

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