In Washinton, It’s A Mandate for the Nationals

By Carla K. Peay
Updated: June 12, 2005

Washington Nationals Manager Frank Robinson. Photo By John E. DeFreitas.

Washington Nationals Manager Frank Robinson. Photo By John E. DeFreitas.

WASHINGTON.D.C.– In Seattle, they call this the “other” Washington. In fact, the off the field moves by the Washington Nationals this week surely must rival anything going on in the halls of congress. But at the end of the day, the Nationals took all three games from the Seattle Mariners, completing back to back series sweeps, before heading out west to complete their inter-league schedule against the American League West.

Off the field action saw the Nationals trading pitcher Tomo Ohka to Milwaukee for infielder Junior Spivey, claiming pitcher Ryan Drese off Waivers from Texas and claiming pitcher Jacobo Sequea off waivers from Baltimore. The acquisition of Spivey, an all-star in 2002 with Arizona, gives the Nationals much needed help in the middle infield with all-star second baseman Jose Vidro projected to be out with an ankle injury until the all-star break. Spivey is expected to remain in the lineup until Vidro’s return. Utility infielder Jamey Carroll, Vidro’s initial replacement, will likely spend more time at shortstop, occasionally spelling starter Christian Guzman, who is struggling at the plate.

The club also welcomed – for one day – infielder Rick Short. Short had a major league debut he will likely never forget, an RBI single in his first at-bat. Short was sent back to the minors the following day to make room for Drese. The club also saw the retirement of veteran outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds. And with the business end taken care of, the Nationals took the field and completed this homestand by winning 12 of 13 games, and 10 in a row.

The Nationals got out to an early lead in Sunday’s contest on Junior Spivey’s two-run homer in the bottom of the second inning. The final run scored by Washington would come in the bottom of the fourth on a single by Jamey Carroll, who drove in Vinny Castilla, who singled and stole a base to start the inning. The three runs would prove to be all the Nationals would need. The Mariners scored once in the sixth and again in the seventh inning, but were shut down in the final innings by reliever Luis Ayala, and closer Chad Cordero, who recorded his 19th save of the season.

Seattle Mariners superstar Ichiro Suzuki, one of the league’s top hitters, would see his average drop below .300 for the first time since May of 2004. Suzuki went 0-5 in Sunday’s contest, and 2 for 14 in the series. The Nationals head out west for the start of a two-week road trip, but the way this team is playing at home, Nationals Manager Frank Robinson joked that he wished that the team had a couple of more weeks right here in the friendly confines of RFK.

“The crowds are really responding to us, and they’re responding to the way we play on the field. We’re winning ballgames and they’re responding which is nice to see and to have”, said Robinson. Riding the momentum of a 10-game winning streak, Robinson stated that it definitely gives the team added confidence.

“Nobody could see this coming, but it was a terrific homestand, and you have to give the players a lot of credit. It starts with the pitching and defense and timely hitting. Everybody contributed and has been contributing during this streak. We just have to go out and stay focused on the road and try to win a couple of series out there”, said Robinson.

Asked almost daily about the fan support for this team, Robinson was quick to thank the RFK faithful.

“The support has been tremendous. I don’t think anybody could have foreseen this, but I said this was a good baseball town, and if we put a good product out on the field and if we played well, the fans would come out here and support us. As the crowds get larger and larger, it just coincides with what we do on the field. If we continue to do our job, they’ll continue to come out here and support us. Even from the beginning, they were very enthusiastic in their support for this ballclub, and it doesn’t go unnoticed by me and the players. We really appreciate it”.