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Gameday Thread, #144: 9/11 vs. Nationals

Billy Traber (3-3, 7.36 ERA)
Claudio Vargas (11-9, 4.90)

Creepy experience getting on a plane this morning, today being the fifth anniversary of...well, y'know. This was kinda the elephant in the corner of the room at the airport: nobody mentioned it at all, but I doubt there was a single person there who hadn't thought about it. Probably fortunate that Reno Airport has slot-machines to keep you occupied, thereby giving you something to do other than start out the window at planes. However, I'm glad we decided not to make United 93 our in-flight film on the portable DVD player: "I'm sorry, sir: would you mind turning the volume down? The screams are disturbing the other passengers..."

The Nationals come to town for this series, and I'm sure I needn't remind you what happened when the two teams met in Washington to start this month. Oh, alright then. AZ took the lead. AZ held the lead. AZ blew the lead in the eighth. AZ lost. Rinse. Repeat. Sorry for picking at the bleeding scab of that memory, if you, like me, had been trying to forget it ever since. The recent records of the teams have gone in different directions: we've won three straight, while the Nationals got swept in a four-game series by the Rockies.

Kind of a homecoming of sorts, since Vargas gets his first crack at facing the team for whom he used to play. Though given the circumstances of his departure - unceremoniously designated for assignment - this is perhaps more like Prom Night than Homecoming. You know: Prom Night, that infamous Jamie Lee Curtis/Leslie Nielsen flick, basically a Halloween ripoff, where someone (Claudio Vargas in the D'backs remake) comes back to wreak havoc on those who did wrong years ago (that'd be the Nats management).

There will, I trust, be somewhat less blood split at Chase Field tonight. Unless we blow another eighth inning lead, in which case, let the deaths by pointy object commence immediately, by all means. Vargas has now won as many games for Arizona this season (11), as in his entire stay with the Expos/Nationals. His last start, seven innings of shutout ball against the Marlins, was one of his best of the season, and he is probably no longer in immediate danger of being removed from the rotation - or, at least, is further away than EnGon.

Billy Traber, the Nationals starter, isn't all that good. We saw him in Washington, and took him for ten hits in only four innings; believe he was yanked from the rotation subsequently, but the Nationals need a fifth starter, so he's getting another chance. Running that winning streak to four should be a very plausible outcome for the Diamondbacks. Should be around for this one, but given the mountain of stuff I have to do, it will probably be largely listening to the radio, with the occasional dash through to the TV if things get particularly interesting.