Take That, New York!

Stammen, defense lead to series win

Well, now we know what next year's Nats commercials are going to feature.

When Mike MacDougal closed the door for his second-straight save against the powerful Yankees, the boos rained down from the crowd, perfectly complimenting the many gallons that poured onto the field during a five-hour rain delay.

The Nats had their first shutout of the season, a 3-0 win over the high-scoring Yankees, and a career game (and it's only his first win!) for Craig Stammen.  He pitched into the seventh without walking a batter, and somehow managed to keep the Yankees off balance by throwing, well, slop.

That's two in a row over the Evil Empire, something every pinstriped fan figured would be impossible.  Certainly the scribes did, as DC Sports Bog pointed out. 

From before the series:

Newsday: "The Nationals are so horrible that a Yankees loss to them is virtually inexcusable."
The Daily News: "[A]nything short of a sweep of Washington will be considered a bad series for the Yankees."
The Star-Leger asked: "How embarrassing would it have been for the Yankees to lose to the woeful Washington Nationals Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium?"

I wonder what they're sayin' now.

The difference between these games and some of the others?  Defense.

With the DH, Adam Dunn's on the bench, and Acta went with a defense-first outfield of Willie Harris, Corey Patterson and Austin Kearns/Adam Dunn.  It worked.

Patterson looked competent in center.  Kearns can't hit, but he can pick 'em, and he made a sensational throw to kill a runner at second after a hard carom off the wall.

But the play of the game belonged to Willie Harris, who bailed out Stammen big-time.  He snared a HARD liner over his head with a leaping, diving stab at a full sprint, which made him hit the grass like a bellyflop.  It's up there with his greatest catches, and helped keep the Yankees off the board.

Dunn certainly wouldn't have made that one!

Bill James once said that a good chunk of what we think of as good pitching is good defense.  Last night, and the night before, you certainly saw what he was talking about.

It's too bad Acta's going to be back to the Dunn/Willingham corner alignment before too long.

Chris Needham used to write Capitol Punishment.   He now thinks that Manny Acta's a genius.

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