Sunday, May 28, 2006

Marlon Byrd and "Z" with THE "D"

Today's game with the Dodgers at RFK produced two of the finest defensive plays of any season. As only the Nationals can pull out way in front, this time by an 9-3 score and actually almost blow the lead again. In the 8th, Jon Rauch came on a just didn't have again for the 4th time this week. Walks Lofton with 1 out, hits Saenz, gets Aybar to fly out and then Wookie falls apart by allowing Matt Kemp, playing his first MLB game after a call up for AA, to single to load the bases. Of course, Kemp had K'd badly in each of his previous 3 at bats. With the bases now load and 2 strikes on Andre Ethier, Rauch amazingly HITS HIM TO FORCE IN A RUN!! Frank Robby has seen enough and calls in Santiago Ramirez with a 5 run lead. Dodgers Catcher Russell Martin is at the plate and on a 1-0 count DRILLS A SHARP LINER TO LEFT CENTERFIELD. Nats CF Marlon Byrd charges all the way and as the ball is a split second away from hitting the ground, and rolling past him for a bases clearing triple, BYRD DIVES FORWARD AND FACE PLANTS HIMSELF FULLOUT AND SNARES THE BALL BEFORE IT HITS THE GRASS! ITS WAS A MARVELOUS CATCH!! THE BEST AT RFK OVER 2 SEASONS AND WITH THE GAME ON THE LINE!! RFK WENT NUTS!!!
In the 9th, Saul Rivera is called on by the Nats to end the game, he gives up a leadoff singles to Oscar Robles but retires the next 2 hitters. Sandy Alomar Jr comes up and sharply grounds a ball over the 3rd base bag, Zimmerman drives for the ball to his right, grabs it, rolls over the 3rd base line, gets up and fires an off balance throw to the right of Nick Johnson and toward right field. Nick streches as far as he possibly can, short hops the ball, keeps his left foot on the bag to get Alomar by a split second TO END THE GAME!! IT WAS A FABULOUS ENDING!! The over 30,000 faithful at RFK gave up some serious approving applause.

Zimmerman, Soriano and Nick Johnson (2 times) all hit homers. During this 7 and 3 10 game homestand the Nats played good fundamental baseball for the most part. Had clutch hitting, solid pitching and good fielding bringing back alot of memories from the early part of 2005. This was the first back to back series wins and homestand winning series since late June, 2005!!

Soriano continues to play at all star level. He hustled to back up Byrd BIG TIME on the lunging Byrd catch in the 8th. It was a good sign, as he can be fairly lazy and not take charge when a ball is dropping between he and other fielders.

Ortiz look good until the 7th when he just ran out of gas at 100 pitches. Rauch, still recovering, apparently from food poisioning, had a very rough week. Santiago Ramirez and Saul Rivera, look like stop gap pitchers, at best. They do not have alot of confidence yet.

Every Nat that came to the plate today had at least one hit. And for the 2nd time in 2 days. The Nats banged out 16 hits and scored 10 runs. Both RFK Nats Record. And both wins against the Dodgers were by a 10-4 score.

The Nationals are showing some life, but if they could just get back to .500 and show that there is hope for 2006, I would be very very happy. We still need a decent backup catcher badly. Scheider could not come out today, during the romp, as Frank could not trust anyone else behind the plate. The team has to do something soon the remedy the situation.

The upcoming 9 game road trip to Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Atlanta may well decide the true outcome of this season. A good road trip and upcoming 11 game homestand could turn around the season.

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