The Nats are getting more and more respect in the press.
Here's an excerpt from an op-ed piece in today's Chicago Tribune Sport's page . . .
Unknown gets best of Bonds
Nats' Lannan holds Giants slugger hitless
Phil Rogers | On Baseball August 7, 2007
And now the game of keep-away begins.
Keep away from the record book, that is.
With Barry Bonds one swing away from being the first man to hit 756 home runs in the major leagues, the focus is almost as much on a string of obscure pitchers from the Washington Nationals as on Bonds.
Left-hander John Lannan, a 22-year-old who had climbed through the farm system after starting the season in Class A, was the first in line to try not to become to Bonds what Al Downing was to Hank Aaron—the guy who gave up the home run that is destined to be replayed forever (or at least the next six years the way Alex Rodriguez is going).
Lannan did not look too worried when he faced Bonds in the first inning, after a 30-second ovation from the sellout crowd at AT & T Park.
He never did look too worried, in fact, handing Bonds an 0-for-3 night that included one walk and ended with back-to-back swinging strikes, the first on an 89-m.p.h. fastball and the second on a 3-2 curve worthy of Tom Glavine.
In addition to the strikeout and walk, Bonds also hit a foul pop to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and grounded into an odd double play—shortstop D'Angelo Jimenez to Zimmerman, who was covering second, to first baseman Dmitri Young.
Manny Acta, the manager of the surprisingly solid Nationals, had said before the game his message to Lannan would be, "Go get 'em." Pitching coach Randy St. Claire said he wouldn't even have a message, not beyond the scouting report, anyway.
"Surprisingly Solid!" See? The rest of the nation is starting to take note of the development of the Washington Nationals!