It could very well be that yesterday's game was the high-water mark of the Nats season. With rumors still sorta swirling (though the tempest isn't as frenzied as it was a few days ago), John Lannan put the team on his back, and pitched them to victory over the Evil Empire, a.k.a. the Yankees.
It was an impressive outing. He pitched into the 5th before allowing his first hit. He walked just one -- in what's typically a pretty patient lineup. And he did something so few Nats pitchers have done: he worked deep into the game.
With a relatively low pitch count, Manny Acta resisted his sometimes-manic urge to go to the pen, and sent Lannan back out for the 9th inning. Lannan wasn't as sharp -- likely nerves? -- giving up a solo homer to Caveman Damon, and a single to left from Mark Teixeira.
With ARod (a righty) coming to the plate, Acta had to give him the hook. ARod walked, bringing up Robinson Cano against the Nats newest closer, Mike MacDougal.
Mac the Ninth has always been a bit shaky, and though he's a former All-Star closer, he hadn't had a save in two seasons. And now he was in a jam.
His fastball had a sharp tail to it, which was preventing him from hitting his spots. Facing a lefty, had he come inside, it would've tailed back out over the heart of the plate. But he and catcher Josh Bard refused to come in, firing the ball repeatedly away as Cano repeatedly fouled balls off with the tying run dancing off third.
He wasn't quite painting the corner -- unless we're talking a Jackson Pollock splatter painting -- but it worked. Eventually Cano rolled over on an outside pitch, hitting it right to Guzman for the game-ending double play.
Lannan stormed out on to the field, celebrating his win. And Adam Dunn summed it up best: "I forgot how happy I could be after a baseball game."
Didn't we all.
Chris Needham used to write Capitol Punishment. He wonders if Manny lasts the season if they win this afternoon.