Willie Harris provides power and, for himself, relief
When Willie Harris dug into the batter's box Monday night for the first time, he knew his own recent history too well. He was hitting .150, and he started to feel the strain. After Adam Dunn walked and Ivan Rodriguez singled to right, Harris came up with one out in the second inning. Aaron Cook threw the first pitch.
"Fastball," Harris said. "Right in the middle."
Harris unleashed a quick swing and hooked the ball down the right field line. He watched as it curled inside the foul pole and into the Nationals' bullpen.
"You don't know how I felt running around those bases," Harris said. "Hitting a buck fifty, sooner or later you're going to get sat on the bench. I was happy for myself and for the team."
By the end of the night, Craig Stammen had stolen the headlines, and the silver Elvis wig, with eight innings. But Harris provided the bulk of the offense. He finished 2 for 3 and drove in four of the Nationals' five runs. The three-run homer gave the Nationals a lead they wouldn't relinquish and gave Stammen room to be comfortable.
"Willie's a ballplayer," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "He gives you good at-bats. He makes the pitcher throw a lot of pitches. He's got good power. He's just a ballplayer."
FROM THE POST
Having played seven of 13 games against 2009 playoff teams, the Nationals are still above .500 after Craig Stammen pitched them a 5-2 victory over the Rockies. "It means that we're not 1-12, digging out of a hole," Stammen said. "Thirteen games is really not that big of a deal if you look a whole 162-game season. But it's important to get off to a good start, put our mindset in the right spot."
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 3, Lehigh Valley 2: Kevin Mench went 2 for 4 with a walk and a run. He's hitting .394. J.D. Martin allowed one earned run on five hits and a walk while striking out five in five innings. Zech Zincola allowed a walk and a hit in a two-inning save.
Harrisburg 2, Reading 1: Aaron Thompson pitched seven shutout innings, outdueling Reading uber-prospect Phillippe Aumont. Drew Stroen allowed one run and struck out three for a two-inning, six-out save. Making his return from a hamstring injury, Danny Espinosa went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk.
Frederick 8, Potomac 5: Michael Burgess went 2 for 4 with a walk. He's hitting .304. Brian Peacock, now hitting .342, went 2 for 5 with a double.
Delmarva 3, Hagerstown 2 (11 innings): J.P. Ramirez went 2 for 4 with a double. Josh Smoker allowed one run on four hits while striking out six in five innings.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
The win last night went to Stammen, and the assist went to Livan Hernandez.
A random and entertaining look at the 2005 Nationals draft? Why not?
The Nats did some minor minor league roster shuffling.
Last night from a Rockies perspective.
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