Friday, September 15, 2006

At Least It Was Interesting At The End

Our Washington Nationals played the Milwaukee Brewers for 2 hours and 46 minutes tonight at RFK Stadium, opening up the penultimate home stand of the season. And, it was forgettable, except for the final 10 minutes.

Only 21,168 showed up for this one, played in off and on rain. Both teams sleepwalking through the affair. The intrigue of former National, Tomo Ohka, getting the start for the Brewers, was taken away in the top of the third inning when Ohka pulled up lame attempting to beat out an infield hit. Believe it or not, that was the downfall for Washington tonight. As rookie Carlos Villanueva came on for Milwaukee pitching 6 shutout innings, before faltering in the bottom of the ninth--setting up a dramatic ending.

Ramon Ortiz, once again, did not have it tonight. Giving up the long ball twice to Brewers Slugger, Geoff Jenkins---to this point, have a very bad season. Prince Fielder had doubled leading off the top of the second on a deep fly to right center, that Ryan Church, playing right field tonight, just flat out missed on the warning track. Church seemed to fear hitting the wall. It was the harbinger of things to come as Church had a very poor game. Jenkins would follow with a lofting fly ball, to nearly the exact same spot, Church trying to jump up on the fence to catch it, the ball just sneaking over the wall for a 2 run homer. Making the score 2-1 Brewers after the Nats had scored 1 run in the bottom of the 1st on a Alfonso Soriano walk, move to second on a bad pickoff throw, Flop single and Ryan Zimmerman Double Play grounder scoring Alfonso.

Ortiz would continue to get hammered. At one point the Pitch Tally down the right field line noted that Ramon had thrown 49 pitches, 38 for strikes, but all those strikes were hits or foul balls. Ortiz not fooling anybody tonight. In the 5th, Jenkins would HAMMER a 2-2 fastball to left centerfield, the ball carrying well, just clearing the wall, slamming against the green background for his second home run tonight. 3-1 Brew Crew. As Ramon tends to do, after giving up a homer, he allows more baserunners, this time Jeff Cirillo doubled down the left field line. Ortiz hit Milwaukee Catcher Mike Rivera right on his left elbow. He went down right away in pain. After about 5 minutes, Rivera jogged to first. Villanueva was next, everyone expecting a bunt, the infield moving in, Villanueva squared to bunt, Ortiz threw him a fastball, right over the plate, Carlos quickly drew the bat back and slapped the pitch past Ryan Zimmerman down the line for a run scoring single. Rivera to 3rd. Tony Gwynn would sacrifice fly home Rivera. It was 5-1 and this one looked over.

For the most part, it was. There was NO ACTION for the remainder of the game until the bottom of the ninth. At one point, MickNats and I got a bunch of folks to chant "WE WANT A HIT, WE WANT A HIT" over and over--then I followed it up with: "AND HOW ABOUT A STARTING PITCHER WHILE WERE AT IT!!' To some nice laughs from around Section 320.

Villanueva kept on mowing down the Nats giving up NO HITS and NO WALKS through 6 complete relief innings. Chris Shroeder, Chris Booker and Brett Campbell giving up NO HIT and NO WALKS in 4 complete innings of relief for Washington. This game had NOTHING GOING ON!! NOTHING!!

Then the bottom of the 9th--Felipe Lopez led off, in a pouring rainstorm, drilling a shot down the right field line. FLop running hard all the way, standing on third with a triple. The Nats first hit off Carlos Villanueva. Zimmerman followed, lacing a grounder into the hole at short, scoring FLop, making the score 5-2 Brewers. And, it was really raining now--Hard. What was left of the crowd was on its feet, making noise. Expecting that NATS RFK COMEBACK!

Brewers Manager, Ned Yost, slowly, and I mean slowly, walked to the mound, this after his catcher, Rivera wasted as much time a possible talking to Villanueva. Milwaukee trying to get the game called for rain, with the official game score reverting to the 8th inning. Home Plate Umpire, Jim Joyce, would have no part of that--Sternly jawing it out with Yost on the mound, to get his butt moving, and bring in a reliever. Yost called in Cordero, not THE CHIEF, but Francisco Cordero, the one time Texas Rangers closer, now with the Brewers.

The Patient One, Nick Johnson, stepped to the plate, and showed no patience. Swinging at Cordero's very first pitch, driving it to left center, but well short of the wall. Corey Hart catching it for out number 1. Jose Vidro would walk on a full count.

Ryan Church was next. Tying run at the plate. Home Run a distinct possibility. As much as I like Ryan, its obvious that he has problems with curve balls. Church was swinging at everything, fouling off 2 pitches, down in the count 1-2. Everybody knew what was coming next, a curve ball in the dirt. The same pitch that EVERY TEAM IN THE MAJORS gets him out on. And, sure enough Francisco threw Ryan an outside, in the dirt slop pitch--Church swinging at it, striking out badly for out number 2. I yell out "WHAT ARE YOU SWINGING AT??" MickNats "EVERY SINGLE TIME!!, THE SAME PITCH. HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE IT COMING!!" We were pissed. It is mind boggling that Ryan can not see it coming, each and every game.

Down to our last out. 1st and 2nd. Tying run still at the plate. Brian Schneider fouls off 4 straight pitches, gets a full count. And walks to load the bases. THE CROWD ON ITS FEET, WANTING THE MIRACLE!! The African Queen saying, "Can you believe we actually might win this one??!!" I replied "It would be stealing a game--a great win"

Nook Logan was due up next. There was NO WAY the slap hitting Logan was going to bat. He's weak from the left side of the plate. Austin Kearns came on to pinch hit. Melvin Dorta on to pinch run for Schneider. Kearns would take ball one. Take ball 2--The RFK FAITHFUL ROARING NOW!!! Then foul off 5 consecutive pitches from Cordero. The rain began to subside. Brewers catcher, Rivera went to the mound, talked with Francisco. On the 7th pitch of this at bat and last pitch of the game, Cordero threw an off speed pitch low, just above the plate, Austin could not hold back his swing, striking out badly with a half swing--disappointing those still remaining on the soggy night. 5-2 the final.

Tonight's affair was forgettable, except for the bottom of the ninth. As I have said many times, you never leave any game until its over. You never know what you might see. Every team has ONE CHANCE, in every single game, no matter what the score, to get back into it. The Nats had a GREAT CHANCE--JUST DIDN'T EXECUTE in the clutch. Nick should have taken a pitch. Church had no game plan--Austin got fooled on a good slop pitch after hanging tough with 2 strikes. We lost. Nats have 2 more shots this weekend to win the series. Not much more to say about game number 147 of the 2006 season.

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