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Andy Behrens

Closing Time: Cristian Guzman and the countdown to history

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Cristian Guzman's(notes) streak is ALIVE!

The Nationals shortstop has now drawn walks in back-to-back games. For the year that makes, um...let's see...two walks for Guzman, total.

The major league record for consecutive games with a walk is 22, set by Detroit's Roy Cullenbine in 1947. We're witnesses to history here, folks. Two down, 20 to go.

Washington is currently involved in at least two other interesting streaks: Ryan Zimmerman(notes) has reached base safely in 37 straight games (Ted Williams has the record, 84), and the Nationals have lost six in a row, despite scoring at least five runs in each contest. According to STATS, only four other teams have ever put together such a scoring streak without winning a game.

In fact, the Nats have actually scored five or more runs in their last 10 games, yet they've gone 1-9. Washington is third in the N.L. in runs-scored; they have 11 wins.

Not surprisingly, they began the day with the worst team ERA in baseball (5.90), the highest team WHIP (1.69), the most walks issued (171) and the fewest games saved (6). Tonight the bullpen's collective record fell to 1-14. Joel Hanrahan(notes) was officially reinstated as the Nats' closer on Monday, and he celebrated by immediately giving up three runs in the ninth to Pittsburgh.

So there are some issues and the Nats are working through them. Please be patient, fans. At least you have Guzman's pursuit of Cullenbine to distract you.

Oh, and Washington will soon have Stephen Strasburg. But as Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan just reported, Strasburg isn't too likely to make an appearance in the big leagues this year:

The prospect of him joining the team upon signing a contract is highly unlikely, said Rizzo, who does not expect any players from the 2009 draft to jump from college straight to the major leagues. While he didn’t mention Strasburg by name, the implication was evident.

"I don’t see that in this year’s draft," Rizzo said. "It’s such an acclimation process for a pitcher to go through, and it’s so very, very difficult, I just can’t see someone doing it."

It's tough to hold waiver priority until the end of the season on the fading hope that Strasburg will make an appearance. Dynasty owners can only do it if either everything is going your way (no immediate needs to fill), or nothing is going your way (too many needs, no hope of winning in '09).

OK, enough Nats. Time for the bulletry ...

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David Ortiz(notes) returned to the Boston lineup and picked up right where he left off: 0-for-3, one walk, two Ks. BJ Ryan(notes) struck him out in the eighth with an underwhelming sequence of 80-something stuff.

Under ordinary circumstances, I'd be all over Papi as a buy-low opportunity, but I can't seem to build an offer that doesn't look like an insult. Normally when Dan Shaughnessy zigs, then it's time to zag, but...hmm.

I'm willing to let Ortiz remain another owner's problem. You can't start him right now and his percent ownership is down to 92. And the Sox are reportedly scouting Nick Johnson.

The 24 percent owned Casey Kotchman(notes) went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs, raising his average to .301. He hit second against right-hander Jason Hammel(notes).

Brad Lidge(notes) pitched another scoreless frame against the Reds -- it wasn't totally clean (one hit, one walk), but at least it was scoreless. That nudged Lidge's ERA below 8.00 for the first time since his May 8 appearance.

OK, one more Nats note: Elijah Dukes(notes) (hamstring) has hit the 15-day DL.

Josh Hamilton(notes) caught the swine groin. It's spreading like wildfire! Hamilton didn't play on Tuesday, but the groin tweaking isn't considered particularly serious. Hamilton's Rangers were one-hit by Dontrelle Willis(notes) and the Dontrettes (Lyon, Seay, Zumaya, Rodney). You can have Willis. No really, he's all yours. I'm good, thanks. He'll get Colorado on Sunday if need to stream at the end of the head-to-head week.

Josh Johnson(notes) owners can feel better about that weak/stiff/dying shoulder (or whatever it was) after Tuesday's effort. He took the loss, but he whiffed six Diamondbacks in 6.1 innings.

The 54 percent owned Dave Bush(notes) picked up a win against the Astros on Tuesday, lowering his ERA to 3.74. Bush should get the Twins in Minnesota on Sunday. (If you're looking for discussion of the Gamel-less wheel play that follows Rickie Weeks'(notes) season-ending injury, go here and here).

"We dream of ninth innings like that," said Mike Jacobs(notes), after participating in the four-run ninth that doomed the Tribe. Highlights here. Kerry Wood's(notes) ERA jumped to a Lidgian 8.31. He's throwing his usual 95-97, though. Joakim Soria(notes) reportedly threw off flat ground, so that's progress.

Now this is more like it, Brian Fuentes(notes):

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And the final K was Ichiro(notes).

Lefty Josh Outman(notes) delivered the best start of his respectable year, going six scoreless innings against the Rays, allowing only three hits and striking out six. His ERA is now 3.31, he has 31 Ks in 32.2 innings and he gets a home start against Arizona next. That's a spot-start opportunity.

Joel Pineiro(notes) three-hit the Cubs, earning his first win in his last four starts. Tony La Russa called the effort "a masterpiece," and it's tough to argue. Pineiro faced just 28 batters. I'm not owning a pitcher who has 19 Ks in 54.1 innings, but he does have the Royals on deck. Colby Rasmus(notes) homered off Ted Lilly(notes) in the Cards' 3-0 win.

Arizona's Gerardo Parra(notes) went 2-for-4 with an RBI. The 22-year-old outfielder is now 7-for-17 since the call-up. He'd been hitting .361/.469/.491 at Double-A and he has 84 career steals in 355 minor league games. Arizona and Florida play two on Wednesday, so it's a decent time to add. Perhaps I should have mentioned that earlier than 2:45 PM Eastern. Ah, well.

Giants prospect Jesus Guzman has three straight multi-hit game for Triple-A Fresno. He's batting .363/.391/.592 with six homers. Guzman could get a look this weekend at Seattle during interleague play.

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Photos via Getty Images (Guzman) and AP Images (Ortiz)

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