Hey folks. The recap portion of this is going to be a quick one. We focus on the future, people, not the past! (At least when there's only one game the night before.) Plus, tonight is an interesting sports night.
Recaps first, previews follow.
Nationals 6, New York Mets 5 (10 innings)
Yesterday the Nats made a statement. It’s not over. By sweeping the Mets (coupled with losses by the Phillies and Marlins) the Nationals have snuck back within 2.5 games of the now-wild-card-leading Astros.
Despite Thomas Boswell’s assertion in today’s Post that the Nationals are still in the race, washingtonpost.com apparently thinks it’s over, as (unless I’m missing something) they removed their “Nationals Wild Card Race” graphic sometime between yesterday morning and this morning.
Yesterday afternoon, Washington needed a late comeback to send the game to extra innings before earning the win in the tenth. After jumping out to a 4-1 lead early (which included a Cristian Guzman home run ... I’m not kidding ... really), the Mets erased everything and jumped on top thanks to Cliff Floyd’s fifth-inning grand slam off of Livan Hernandez. 5-4 Mets.
With one out in the ninth inning and men on first and third, a Kaz Matsui fielding error allowed Brad Wilkerson to reach first and pushed home the tying run. Then, with two outs in the tenth inning and Nick Johnson on third, Vinny Castilla singled to right field off of Roberto Hernandez (6-6) to score the game-winning run. Gary Majewski worked the bottom half to earn his first save.
Jay Bergmann (2-0) worked the bottom of the ninth and got the win.
The Nats head to the west coast to face San Diego, the sub-.500 team leading the National League West, starting tonight at 10:05. John Patterson (8-5, 2.74 ERA, RHP) will face Jake Peavy (12-6, 2.93 ERA, RHP) in a match-up of young studs. This is a three-game series.
Now on to what’s on tap for tonight.
First and foremost, the Nats play the Padres in San Diego on ridiculous west coast time, which means 10:05 p.m. on the good side of the country (the side that doesn’t have to wake up at 9 a.m. on Sunday to watch football). Meanwhile, Philadelphia and Florida play each other in Miami, which is good if the Nats can sweep the Padres and neither the Phillies or Marlins sweep, because they will gain on both teams. It’s really bad, though, if the Nats don’t sweep and either the Phils or Fish do. Meanwhile, Houston starts up a three game set at home against Milwaukee. Go Brewers.
From the “they’re still playing?” side of town, the Orioles take on the Devil Rays (marquee match-up if there ever was one) at Camden Yards tonight to start a three-game set. Tonight’s game pits drunken college students’ stomachs against cheap hot dogs, as it’s $5 College Night AND $1 hot dogs and Cokes for Fan Appreciation Weekend. (Hot dogs and Cokes will be a buck for all three games.) The pitching match-up is the Orioles leader in wins, Rodrigo Lopez (14-9, 4.82 ERA, RHP) facing young, talented, and stuck-in-Tampa Scott Kazmir (8-9, 3.85 ERA, LHP). The game is set for 7:35 p.m., but the forecast is saying it might rain.
Also tonight is the Washington Capitals preseason opener in Carolina where they will take on the (bad name at the moment) Hurricanes. As much as I’ve tried to claim indifference and say that hockey is dead to me, especially with the Caps sure to suck for years to come, I’m pretty excited for hockey’s return and am optimistic (probably unrealistically) that the rule changes will make the game fun to watch again. I’m also psyched to see Alexander (they call him Sasha in Russia) Ovechkin don a Caps uniform for the first time, because I really do think he will be better than Sidney Crosby -- for the next couple years at the very least. The game is at 7:00 p.m. I can’t find anything about it, but in ’03-’04, preseason games were streamed on the Caps Web site.