Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Random Act Of Kindness

The Washington Nationals starting pitching has been awful of late. And, it was no different tonight with Tony Armas, Jr on the mound. Armas was his typical frustrating self, getting ahead to many batters, yet never able to throw the out pitch. Giving up 2 strike singles, the Phillies just hanging in there, and getting the Nats down early, first 2-0 and then 5-1. Lasting only 3.1 innings and throwing 82 pitches.

Despite his early exit, the Nationals made a nice comeback on Alfonso Soriano's 42nd Home Run, a MAMMOTH Shot to LEFT CENTER, to the Mezzanine just below Section 452 and Ryan Zimmerman's electrifying 2 run triple in the 5th, getting the crowd back into it. 5-3 Phillies. Ryan Wagner had replaced Armas in the 4th and proceeded to shutdown the dangerous Philadelphia lineup, giving up a walk to Pat Burrell and nothing else in 1.2 innings. Wagner continues to make strides in overcoming his pitching problems with Cincinnati and since his trade to Washington. His slider is getting outs, and he's very confident on the mound. More promising than anyone could have thought just one month ago.

We had a good chance heading to the top of the sixth. And, what does our Manager, Frank Robinson do?--He brings to the mound the very worst pitcher on the team--Kevin Gryboski, when last seen at RFK Stadium on July 21, had given up a COLOSSAL HOME RUN to the DEEP UPPER DECK IN LEFT CENTER to the Chicago Cubs, Aramis Ramirez. Gryboski was sent down the very next day. He's been terrible.

Now, Frank has been using Jason Bergmann, as a spot starter during this time of great need for the pitching staff. He's nothing great, but Jason has not been terrible. Bergmann is being skipped over in the rotation as the Nats have a few off days in the current schedule. He's available for JUST THIS SITUATION!

Your starter has only given you 3+ innings, Wagner has shut the Phillies down and you are back into it. The Nationals need to stretch out the bullpen, you have a guy in the pen that can get you to possibly the 8th inning for Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero, if you take the lead. Frank doesn't use that guy.

Gryboski comes on--Abraham Nunez singles to Jose Vidro's left, Vidro showing no range (he missed 3 balls tonight, one to his right, 2 to his left) that an average second baseman would field, lets the ball play him, Nunez Safe. Brett Myers bunts Nunez to second. Jimmy Rollins comes to the plate and hits a high chopper at Nick Johnson. Johnson has no play, and Gyboski is late getting to the bag. For whatever reason, Nick decides to backarm sling the ball to Gryboski near the bag, Rollins already past the pitcher. Johnson throws the ball past the rear of Gyboski and toward the first base coaches box. Error on Johnson, number 13 this season. Nunez scores easily 6-3 Phils. Exasperating how frustrating it can be to watch the Nats. Just hold the ball. Just hold it!

And, then it got worse. Shane Victorino hits chopper up the middle, that Vidro just could not get to (again, a decent fielder would have had it), Rollins stops at second. The dangerous Chase Utley would step to the plate and fly out to Ryan Church. The EVEN MORE Dangerous, Ryan Howard would saunter to the plate, hold that big bat of his out in front of him, bat pointing straight up, looking very menacing (I called Section 467 for a HOME RUN) and he proceeded to LAUNCH a shot off the Mezzanine facing in Section 457 ---DEAD CENTER FIELD. The game essentially over now at 9-3. Howard's 48th Homer of the season would tie him for the Phillies ALL TIME SINGLE SEASON LEADER with the GREAT MIKE SCHMIDT.

Why?? Why is Kevin Gryboski in this game. We just had an off day, didn't travel from outside the time zone. You have better choices. Come on Frank!!!! It makes NO SENSE!! NONE!!

Saul Rivera would get himself in trouble in the 7th, walking in the 10th Phillies run in garbage time, before the Nats actually made it interesting with a broken bat single by Ryan Church scored Vidro, who had doubled in the 8th--making it 10-4.

And, then in the 9th, with only a few hundred DIE HARDS still in the announced crowd of 25,735, rallied BIG TIME, to make the game interesting and bring those faithful still there to their feet for a rousing ending--all with 2 outs.

Henry Mateo walked off Philadelphia's Aaron Fultz. Soriano, looking for jack number 2 of the night, went down swinging on a pitch in the dirt. And, pinch hitter Brandon Harper would meekly pop to second. 2 outs.

Ryan Zimmerman would step to the plate and DRILL a liner into the right centerfield gap, scoring Mateo, 10-6. And the crowd was stirring. The slumping, Nick Johnson got ahead in the count and singled right up the middle, scoring Z easily, 10-6 and the crowd was ON ITS FEET!! Austin Kearns proceeded to double down the left field line, Johnson stopping at 3rd. And the crowd was FRANTIC!! Could it be!! The Nats come all the way back!!

As Jose Vidro was up next. Church to follow, representing the tie run. It was conceivable. Phillies Manager, Charlie Manuel, realized it and decided to bring on Arthur Rhodes, his current left handed closer and former Oriole. Rhodes had shut the Nats down twice on Washington's just complete 2-7 roadtrip.

With the RFK STADIUM Faithful on its feet, making a tremendous amount of noise. Vidro would take a called first strike, take ball one. Rhodes would try to sneak a fastball over the outside corner of the plate that Jose DRILLED down the right field line, but it had too much spin and went into the stands just to the right of the foul pole, FOUL. After ball 2, Rhodes would throw an off speed slider that fooled Vidro badly, Jose swinging at it after it was past him-ending the game--to the great disappointment of those few fans that STUCK IT OUT TILL THE END.

As I have said many times before, never leave until the last out is recorded. You may well miss something in a baseball game you may never see again. The Nats made fine comeback. And, if they had won the jubilation would have been tremendous.

But it doesn't make up for the serious woes of this pitching staff. The starter's are making every game a come from behind necessity. The Nats are never in games, there's little life. Except for Soriano, Zimmerman, and to a lesser extent--Nick Johnson, we have no players doing their jobs. Its sorry to watch.

And, Frank didn't help with a awful pitching change decision in the 6th that WAS THE BALLGAME. It was funny that Gryboski entered the game at the exact same time the NatPack was delivering it RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS At RFK to Fans. Obviously, Frank decided to deliver a "RAK at RFK" to Philadelphia. No excuse for that one.

Finally, it was such a bad game for the Nats, that SCREECH, MY MAIN BIRD!! was played by a substitute tonight!! When Screech strolls by our section, everyone, including me yelling his name and he doesn't respond to me or anyone else. Got to be a fill in for the night. During the 8th inning Bustin Loose Song, Screech barely danced. Oh well, I guess everyone needs a day off every once in a while.

1 comment:

SenatorNat said...

2006 Crystal Balling in retrospect at the Labor Day breakpoint:

If the Nats knew they could score 5 and 6 runs a game quite readily at the Labor Day bread, they would probably presume to stay in the Wild Card race to the last day of the season...

If the Nats knew going into 2006 that Vidro, Guillen, and Johnson COMBINED would barely produce 100 RBI's, then last place would have been predictable, regardless of whether the starters were of 2005 quality...

If the Nats knew going into 2006 that they would have a chance of both Rookie of the Year from Ryan Zimmerman, and that newly acquired Alfonso Soriano would agree to play left field, start the NL All-Star game there, and have an MVP-styled year there (potentially setting the overall offensive record for a Washington MLB player!), then 21 games under .500 and 26 games out of first place in their division,on August 30, would not even be in the realm of reality...

If the Nats knew that there would be no Livo or John Patterson, to go with no Ayala and no Lawrence or Estaban at August 30 - last place might seem predictable...

The point is that there is no accurate way to crystal ball these days in professional sports, when so much depends on the health and chemistry of the team that moment: witness the Mets who have an MVP likely Carlos Beltran this year - a complete bust last year! Plus, consider the age of their three star pitchers, and the Mets easily could have suffered a fate quite different than they have in 2006, thus far. This much is true, however: even as one builds for the future, you can not starve out the present...

Not making an all-out effort to sign Soriano, because the "Nationals finished in last place with him" is the mark of a loser: indicative of the "Kansas Royals of the National League."

This team's current line-up, bench, and bullpen, with four Major League starters (Patterson; Schmidt; Lawrence; X) is easily a .500 team.

As I have emphasized repeatedly, this requires an $80 million payroll to sustain, which is completely in line with the price of the team, and the market demographics.

Prospective crystal balling for 2007: Nationals do not sign Soriano, and do not sign two highly rated healthy starters, and consider Royals Blue as new uniform...