Tuesday, September 19, 2006
On one of the MOST BEAUTIFUL SUNSET EVENINGS of any Washington Nationals game played at RFK Stadium, Rookie Pitcher, Beltran Perez, making his very first Major League Start, shutdown the Atlanta Braves for 6 solid shutout innings, allowing just one hit, walking no one, striking out three Atlanta batters. The Lanky Perez was on the top of his game. And, since jumping up from AA Harrisburg when called up in September by the Nats, had a HUGE advantage tonight against a good Braves hitting team that had never seen him pitch.
Throwing fastballs in the low 90's, changeup in the mid-80's, slider near 90MPH, Beltran had Atlanta hitters totally off balance. Perez threw just 70 pitches, 40 for strikes, only Chipper Jones solving his magic tonight, singling sharply to right field in the very first inning. No one else from Atlanta came close to a hit. Andruw Jones, flying out twice facing Beltran tonight.
Solid hitting from Washington tonight, helped to give Perez his very first Major League Win. Every starter in the field, except Felipe Lopez, got hits. 7 starters had RBI's tonight. Ryan Zimmerman, breaking out of a mini slump with 2 hits, one, a run scoring double for his 98th RBI. Birthday Boy, Nick Johnson ripped a line drive home run off Atlanta Starter, Chuck James in the second inning. Later, Johnson would single and walk, scoring three runs tonight. It was announced on the Stadium Scoreboard that Johnson was just the 2nd player for the Monteal/Washington Franchise in the past 18 seasons to HOMER ON HIS BIRTHDAY. Even Jose Vidro showed some power, blasting a James first pitch fastball deep to left field, the ball bouncing off the ChevyFirst.com sign above the Atlanta bullpen for a two run shot in the 5th.
After swinging at absolutely everything, and NatsDelNegro commmenting "I mean every single pitch" , and striking out 3 consecutive times, Alfonso Soriano began to right his slumping bat, with a solid first pitch double down the right field line in the 7th, scoring Brandon Harper and Nook Logan for the final 2 runs of the evening. Harper continued to show some decent talent, getting the catching start tonight. Knocking in one run on a sacrifice fly, and scoring that one run. Nook Logan also knock in a run, with a seeing eye single through the hole between first and second, also in the 7th.
This game was NEVER in doubt, the Nats well ahead throughout the night. A rare uneventful win for the Washington Nationals. Saul Rivera and Ryan Wagner each gave up one run apiece in the 7th and 8th, respectively. Jason Bergmann finished off the game in the 9th.
Curly W number 66 was all about Beltran Perez. Many considered Perez the best Minor League Pitcher for the Nationals this season. The 24 year old righthander finished 8-6 with an ERA of 3.11 in 31 games for Harrisburg. 16 of those appearances were starts. Beltran striking out 107 AA batters in 121 innings, and giving up just 40 walks--8 home runs. Since his promotion to the Major League Nationals, Perez had made 5 previous appearances, giving up just one run in 5.2 innings. With all the problems the Nats have had with their poor starting pitching, there was no reason not to give the young man his chance. Its just one start, but it was an impressive one. A good start that the Nationals need badly. I was sort of shocked to see Frank Robinson take him out of the game after 6 innings, he was completely in control. Andy, sitting in front of me, noted that Beltran had only thrown 70 pitches at that time. We were up 6-0. Why not let him hang in their for a few more hitters.
Our only conclusion, was that Frank wanted him to go out of the game untouched and confident. Too bad the crowd on 20,596 didn't get a opportunity to give Number 54 a standing ovation, when taken out, as Beltran was pinch hit for in the bottom of the sixth, never to reappear on the field tonight.
Section 320 had a couple of courtesy seats in Section 214, directly behind home plate, many regulars in our section trading off sitting in a new spot, just to try it out. MickNats reported, the very first time he started the HEH-HO Vidro chant, some guy right in front of him, complained that he could not have a conversation, please be quiet!! KentuckyRob noted that since those seats are in the bottom of the bowl, with so many people around you, it was virtually impossible to pick up any individual cheers, just constant noise. Although NatsDelNegro, sitting in Section 214 and me in Section 320 coordinated a PERFECT Alfonso!!SORIANO!! cheer in the 7th when Alfonso doubled home the final runs. We all agreed, its alot more fun right where we are--Section 320.
Sorry to keep this writing short tonight, I am once again off to Florida to cover the latest problems with Space Shuttle Atlantis returning home. Leaving in just a couple of hours. Unfortunately, I will probably not be able to blog, but will be able to watch tomorrow night Braves finale at RFK on my computer.