Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Thrilling Ending, JUST THRILLING!!

Chad Cordero was standing on the mound, snapping his glove shut after receiving the ball toss from Felipe Lopez. He was pissed. Two were out, The Chief just had Chase Utley down to his last strike with the Phillies Chris Coste on second base in the top of the ninth, leading by two. Cordero had served in a slider over the outside corner that Utley had slapped into left field, scoring Coste, bringing the Phillies back into the game, now 4-3 Nats. THE MOST DANGEROUS HITTER IN THE GAME WAS UP NEXT--RYAN HOWARD. The RFK Stadium Crowd was on its feet. Many Phillie Fans yelling "Lets Go PHILLIES!!" but being drowned out by the Nat Faithful.

The game winning run was now at the plate, and Frank Robinson was ever so slowly walking to the mound. With Pitching Coach Randy StClaire out with the flu, Frank was being part pitching coach tonight, but this upcoming conversation had nothing to do with pitching, it had to do with HEART. Frank showing his IN YOUR FACE demeanor, pointing decisively to Cordero on the mound, with the Nats entire infield standing by. Robinson making the point. YOU CAN DO THIS!! We will not pitch around Howard.

After Frank slowly walked back to the dugout, what was left of the 18,960 continued to stand and ROAR!! The anticipation great. I don't care who you were cheering for, if you love the game of baseball, this was a juicy moment.

The Chief rared back and hummed in a 91MPH high slider, Howard swinging viciously, fouling the ball back behind home plate. The Crowd as one saying "WOOOO!!" The Chief then looked in for the next sign from Brian Schneider, nodded his head, kicked and delivered, off speed pitch, fooling Howard ever so slightly, Ryan though, still drives the pitch up and out to left centerfield, looking at first like it might go, but Alfonso Soriano steps under it, grabbing the ball, Cordero, his twirling jump and hand pump to his heart, Schneider all smiles congratulating Chad, sending Nats Fans home happy with a very fine, exciting, 4-3 win. BANG!! ZOOM!! GO THE FIREWORKS!! CURLY W Number 70 in the books. A game that ended with a final matchup made in heaven. Save number 29 for THE CHIEF. All in a win the Nationals appeared to have no shot at earlier in the evening.

The African Queen and I were late arriving at RFK Stadium tonight, business called, and the game began as we were walking down the steps from the 300 Level Concourse to our seats. As luck would have it, we ran into SCREECH, right in front of Section 316, making his way toward Section 320, which we had yet to arrive at. Yelling out "SCREEECH!!" he turned immediately and was shocked to see me standing right behind him, pointing at his ficticuous watch telling me I am late, and where's THE QUEEN!! We High Five and I point out the Queen lost among the throng of other folks trying to get to their seats. SCREECH clears a path, gives Sohna a peck on the cheek, sticks out his furry elbow and escorts The African Queen to her rightful seat. It was great, because the aisle was so crowded with people, Screech was able to part the sea to make it all happen. Allowing us to see the remainder of the first inning, unobstructed. We couldn't thank Screech enough for the hospitality!! Sohna LOVED THE ESCORT!! Got a big kick out it.

├ůs soon as we sat down, it was obvious that, Nationals Starter, Ramon Oritz may not be long for this game. After Jimmy Rollins led off the game for Philadelphia flying to the warning track in right, Shane Victorino drilled a single up the middle and Chase Utley would single to right, moving Victorino to second. Howard was up next, and with the Phillie Faithful chanting "MVP!, MVP!!" Ryan would drive the very first Ramon pitch to center, scoring Victorino easily, moving Utley to second. Former Oriole, Jeff Conine stepped up and laced a full count single to left, scoring Utley, moving Howard to second. Still one out and two runs in. Pat Burrell would also go deep into the count, but strike out swinging on a slider. Burrell must have felt like he was playing at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, as the moment he K's he was booed mightily by Phillies fans. The exact same response Sohna and I witnessed in August at a Nats road game against the Phillies. Mike Lieberthal would, thankfully, end the threat by flying out to Nook Logan. But, Ortiz would throw 29 pitches in the first inning alone. He did not look sharp.

Sharp though was the description of Ryan Zimmerman. Z-Man continues to tear it up as the season sets, and tonight he was on his game. Ryan got the nats right back into the game in the bottom of the first after Bernie Castro led off with a bunt single, barely beating the throw from Utley and Felipe Lopez would single to right, Castro scurrying to third. Soriano would swing at the very first pitch, poping the ball to center, but too shallow to score Bernie. Then Z stepped up, FLop stole second to put both runners in scoring position, and on a 1-1 count, grounded hard to deep short, to the left of Jimmy Rollins. Rollins only play was to toss to first to retire Zimmerman. 2-1 Phils. RBI number 105 for Number 11. Vidro would ground out to end the threat.

Ortiz would continue to be all over the plate, giving up 2 singles in the second to Rollins and Victorino. Utley would lace the second pitch of his at bat, deep down the right field line. A line drive that kept on hooking toward the foul pole,just above the fence. MickNats thought it hit the post. I thought it hit the post. Everyone in Section 320 thought it hit the foul pole, as from our sightline looking right down the rightfield line, we could see the ball carom off the yellow pole. First base umpire Rob Drake defiantly called the ball FOUL--to a great relief for all Nationals Fans. Replays showed the ball hitting the post clearly. But, I will take it. Luck would prevail tonight for Washington. Utley would then pop out with Ramon truly escaping--unharmed. Again in the 3rd, Howard would strike out to led off, but Conine and Burrell would single with one out on grounders in the hole that Lopez just flat out gave up on. Felipe is a very disturbing infielder. Again, though, Ramon somehow got out of it, striking out Lieberthal, Abraham Nunez flying to Nook Logan in centerfield.

Zimmerman would strike again, with the decisive blow of the game in the bottom of the 3rd, when Castro would draw a full count walk from Phildelphia Starter Brett Myers. FLop sacrificing him to second. Soriano would draw a full count walk. Z then HAMMERS a drive, a liner right past Pat Burrell in left, Castro and Soriano score, and just like that, Washington had the lead, 3-2. You just had to shake your head that the Nationals were in the lead. Zimmeran continues to hit in the clutch. 107 RBI now for 2006, 65% of them with runners in scoring position. If this man is not ROOKIE OF THE YEAR!! It a FARCE!!

Ortiz, feeling pumped now with lead, actually settled down to retire the Phils in order in the 4th, but got in trouble, once again, in the 5th when Utley and Howard both single to start the inning. Section 320 noticed that Phillies Fan were actually cheering their players that got on base. In Philadelphia, all their fans do is sit on the hands and boo every single moment. SenatorNat yelling out to them: "So, You need to go on the road to learn how to cheer!!" The African Queen noting that, maybe, these Phillies fans, no longer live in the Philadelphia area, and by living in the DC have learned how to make the proper noise. We all were laughing about it. But, Conine would line out to Z at 3rd, Burrell would strike out (and booed mightily again by Phillie Fans-I guess old habits are hard to break) and Liberthal flied out to right to end the threat.

When Ramon Ortiz finished off the Phillies in order in the 6th, he would leave the game giving up 10 hits, none for extra bases, amazingly just 2 runs and as MICKNATS said: "Can you believe Ortiz leaves with a quality start?!!" No, but he did--incredibly so. Ortiz would actually get the win tonight, his 11th to go with 15 losses.

Billy Traber trotted to the mound in the 7th and got into trouble right away--Hitting Shane Victorino on a pitch in the dirt. Utley would foul pop to Vidro near the Phillies Dugout, and Ryan Howard was next. Again, the entire crowd anticipating something monsterous. Traber, working deliberately, worked a full count, on the pitch, Victorino took off, Howard swinging mightily on an off-speed pitch, and missing. Howard slamming his bat down in disgust--Schneider would heave a throw to second, right on the money, only to see FLop completely miss the ball, and Schneider charged with an error for some reason. This error was all FLop. I really believe that Lopez is afraid of contact with other players on close plays, and it affects his game tremendously. The has occured too many times. Then, Frank Robinson stepped out of the dugout to replace Traber with Saul Rivera. Rivera getting Conine to ground out to Lopez to end the inning. The Nationals trot off the field to a nice standing ovation.

The Wookie, Jon Rauch, was on the mound for Washington to start the 8th. With one out, Randall Simon (yes, the same Randall Simon that with the Pirates, used his bat to knock down the girl running in the Sausage Races in Milwaukee a few years back-an incident causing so much commotion), singles to left. Simon then replaced by pinch runner, Michael Bourn. Rauch would strike out pinch hitter, David Dellucci, on 4 pitches. Then, with pinch hitter Chris Coste at the plate, Bourn would take off for second. Schneider heaved a throw right on the bag, Castro catching, but Bourn's head first dive just beating the throw, but Bourn kept on sliding right over and past the bag, Bernie holding the ball and glove right on the back of Bourn's legs. Second base umpire Paul Navert calling Bourn OUT on the overslide. It was a key moment of the game. Phillie fans disgusted. Nice effort by Castro to stay with the play. Felipe Lopez would have given up on the throw.

Tonight's luck would continue for the Nationals in the bottom of the 8th. With Geoff Geary on the mound, Lopez and Soriano would both strike out. With 2 outs, Zimmmeran would lace a solid single to left for his 3rd hit of the night. George Lombard, pinch hitting for Rauch would draw a full count walk, getting the home crowd stirring again. Brian Schneider was up next, working the count, and with the count full, pops a blooper down the left field line. Phillies 3rd Baseman Jose Hernandez and Shortstop Jimmy Rollins converged on the ball, it looked playable, but fearing a collision, Rollins dropped the ball while jumping over Hernandez, keeping Brian alive. The luck continued, as on the very next pitch, Schneider would weakly ground the ball to Utley at second. Utley charged in, with plenty of time to get the slow moving Schneider. As Utley reached down to barehand the ball, the ball scooted to his right, under his hand and rolling to the back of the infield. Zimmerman scores the 4th run of the night. 4-2 Nats. The Washington Crowd laughing in delight. Phillies Fans standing in TOTAL DISGUST, shaking their heads, seeing their playoff hopes slowly fading away. Nook Logan will finally kill the rally with a terrible 3 pitch strikeout at bat. Logan can not hit from the leftside, no doubt.

Chris Coste would lead off the 9th with a double to the wall off Cordero to set up the dramatic finale. With the Phillies still in the playoff hunt, this game had a great atmosphere, despite the meager turnout. The Nationals won a game they had no right to win--which made it all the more enjoyable.

Also, MickNats and I both purchased this terrific Commemorative Plaque honoring Alfonso Soriano's 40/40 Date of September 16. Limited to just 40 total production run, with Alfonso taking number 1 and 40--The Plaque included a Mounted Picture of Soriano holding the 40th steal base, and a Special Ticket with date and event and a Silver engraved Marker on the bottom. It was really nice, I think the team store sold out of them last night. The African Queen thrilled to get this special item of her Main MAN!!


SenatorNat said...

Well - the Phillies' apologists this morning have declared that Utley's first-inning right-field blast was a HR - so, I guess that means they stay tied with Nomar's Dodgers for WC, unless replay is inconclusive!!

The Chief is having a very fine season, overall, as is Brian "Just gave us more time to play cards" Schneider. While the Nationals literally were de-railed returning by train from the Big Apple (glad Nick was put on that one!), the Cardinals are de-railing right into a total train wreck.

Not since the 1964 Phillies ("Bunning and Short and pray for Spawn and Sain!")have we seen the likes of this: the curse of Preston Wilson?

The Phillies are going down, again, and going down hard - with the booming bunts of Logan and Castro leading the way...

SenatorNat said...

Correction: glad old Nick was left behind to go north for re-hab - and NOT put on a train which then de-rails going south. He has suffered enough pain and mishaps already. Is Kearns hurt or humiliated or what. Get that guy back up on the bicycle, Frank!