Wednesday, July 26, 2006
2 Games, 5 RBI, I Guess Church is REALLY TERRIBLE!!
Ryan Church was the difference in tonight's 8-6 Win at RFK against Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants. Just recalled from New Orleans to add depth to a depleted outfield with Alex Escobar injured, Church has started the last 2 games. On Sunday, Ryan Clubbed a MONSTER BLAST in section 468 for a 2 run homer in the Nats 7-1 win over the Cubs. Tonight, Church hustled all the way on a hard hit slapper to Shea Hillenbrand at first for San Francisco, and beat the relay for an infield single. He then lined a rope to right center to score Marlon Anderson and Austin Kearns in the Nats 5 run 3rd inning off Matt Morris, sending Morris to the shower early. Later, with the game on the line and the Nats only up 7-6, Ryan, down 0-2 in the count to lefthander Jonathan Sanchez, fought off 2 foul pitches and took one ball before lining a medium deep fly to right, scoring Nick Johnson for a crucial insurance run. Church played a solid centerfield, tracking down 6 hard hit flys and tracked down a hard hit liner into the left centerfield alley from Hillenbrand to end the game and give Chad Cordero his 16th save (of course the Chief made it interesting as always, 2 runners reached base in the 9th with nobody out, before Chad closed it out).
Also, there were 2 OUTSTANDING DEFENSIVE GEMS by the Nats--AND BOTH OCCURRED WITH BARRY BONDS AT THE PLATE!! In the 3rd, Bonds ledoff the inning and on the very first pitch from Ramon Ortiz, DRILLED a sharply hit grounder right over the first base bag. Nick Johnson dove to his right, reached over the baseline with his glove, snared the ball, rolled over again and stood up and ran to first to retire Bonds. Beautiful backhanded STAB!! Later, Bonds would lead off the 8th and get to a 3-1 count from lefthander Micah Bowie (Bowie, by the way, despite giving up Ray Durham's second homer of the evening--has really been steady). Bowie tried to squeeze a fastball in over the outside corner of the plate, A MISTAKE PITCH TO BONDS IN HIS PRIME WITHOUT KNEE PROBLEMS. Bonds drove the pitch into the left centerfield gap--AND OUT OF NOWHERE, RUNNING LIKE A DEER, ALFONSO SORANO MADE A BEAUTIFUL OVER HIS LEFT SHOULDER, LEAPING, BALL ALEADY BEHIND HIM, SNARE OF THE DRIVE!! Its a play that Soriano would have botched 3 months ago. Alfonso made as nice of a run and catch as he's ever made in left. And Barry Bonds would go 0-4 for night, to the delight of the mostly booing RFK Faithful. But, to be fair, there were many Bonds fans cheering him.
For a year and one half, Washington Nationals Ryan Church has been on the cusp of becoming a very solid major league baseball player. He has the size and sweet left handed swing to drive the ball to all fields. Church is also an excellent centerfielder. Countless times he has delivered when given the opportunity to play. But, each time he has succeeded, an injury or illness has hampered his production. And, someone in the Nationals front office begins to backstab him.
Church was on pace to hit .300 with 20 Home Runs and 80 RBI last season before he ran himself into a wall in Pittsburgh to make a game saving catch. That put him on the DL. He was never the same the rest of the season, which included a broken toe taken off a pitch. Nationals officials started whispering that Church was "soft" But, the fact of matter was that he was HURT!! He came on strong again at the end of 2005. You would think he would be given every chance to make the team for 2006. But, no--Jim Bowden decided that Brandon Watson was going to be the leadoff hitter and, no matter what Ryan did, he would not make the team.
Well, Watson was terrible, lasted 9 games in 2006, sent to the minors, now plays in the Cincinnati Reds Organization. Church was recalled, hit a Grand Slam in his second game back with the Nats, went on a tear, knocking 4 home runs, then caught the flu on a road trip to St. Louis in April. So, what do the Nats do, he struggled a little after being sick, Bowden sends him to New Orleans.
Bowden and Frank Robinson feel that if you are a struggling veteran you can play until you kill the team on the field. But, in Church's case, everything was done to screw with his head. In late June, I attended a New Orleans Zephyr's game in New Orleans. As a Nats Season Ticket Holder, I was able to arrange for my small group to meet, MY MAIN MAN!, Ryan Church. We talked about how the organization was messing with him. Ryan always has felt that Frank wants to give him a chance, yet there are those in the Front Office that simply do not like him.
Well, MY MAN has talent and Washington has been wasting him. Church's power and production numbers, per at bat, are outstanding. Easily in the top 4 on this team. CHURCH DESERVES THE CHANCE TO PLAY REGUARLY. HE AND ESCOBAR can help this team. But, I have this bad feeling that Bowden will never allow Ryan to develop and JIMBO will just throw Church away in a giveaway deal later this week, just to give Bowden the GLORY & FEELING of making the BIG TRADE!!
It just makes me sick to think that Church days in Washington may be numbered. I GUESS HE'S REALLY TERRIBLE!!