Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Vidro Gets Even With Me/Section 320 In the House
Jose Vidro must be reading my rant against him, as last night he came up clutch, BIG TIME, knocking in 4 runs, the last on a bases loaded 9th inning walk, off the Diamondbacks Luis Vizcaino giving the Nationals a 7-6 win and stopping a dreadful 4 game losing streak.
Claudio Vargas started tonight for Arizona, Vargas is the first of 3 EX-Nationals pitchers Washington will face over the next 4 games. Livan Hernandez gets the start against his former team on Wednesday and Tomo Ohka is the scheduled starter at RFK this friday night when the Milwaukee Brewers come to town. You can bet Ohka's in for a grudge match.
This game had all the makings of the terrible losses in Denver over the past weekend. The Nats had fought back, from way down to tie the score and then take the lead at 6 to 4--only to see their bullpen, once again, give it back. Jon Rauch issued a leadoff walk for the second consecutive inning, this time in the 8th and Damian Easley followed with a home run off the Groove Pitch Machine--Rauch's 13 home run given up this season in 82 total pitched innings. A terrible ratio.
Phoenix tonight also featured an appearance by SECTION 320, right behind the Nationals Dugout at Chase Field. NatsDelNegro in town to visit CanadaJim and Kathy. CanadaJim, an ORIGINAL 320, just moved to Scottsdale, Arizona due to a job promotion. On the Nats Radio Broadcast, on WTWP--you could CLEARLY HEAR the "Alfonso--SORIANO!!" cheer each time Alfonso stepped to the plate. Later, the African Queen and I heard the "HE-HO Vidro" Chant!! Sohna and I couldn't stop laughing over what Frank Robinson must be saying: "Not only do those guys never shut up, now they're on the road--out WEST!!" But, we know, first hand, the players and Frank, love all our chants. Very humorous to think about it though.
Game 144 of the season also featured Alfonso Soriano's 20th outfield assist on a play, Alfonso misplayed, and the 2nd base umpire incorrectly called. Chris Young had homered off Nats Starter Billy Traber leading off the bottom of the 3rd, making the score 3-0 Arizona, Orlando Hudson then blooped a single to left, Soriano charging in on the ball, missing it, the ball rolling behind him slightly to his left. Hudson did not stop running, Alfonso reached behind him and winged the ball sidearm to second, replays showed that Orlando's hand touched the bag before Vidro made the tag, but Umpire Angel Hernandez, in a giving mood--promptly called Hudson out. I'll take it!! Any luck the Nats can receive.
Sets up Number 12 for 50 Homers, 40 Steals, 20 Assists, 110 runs scored and 100 RBI for 2006. THAT's A GOOD SEASON!! In anybody's league.
Traber didn't have it, again, giving up 3 home runs, Connor Jackson and Chris Snyder in the 2nd and Young's in the 3rd. After Traber got into serious trouble in the 4th, 3 straight singles, scoring the Dbacks 4th run and still no outs. Frank stepped out of the dugout and called for Saul Rivera.
Rivera shut the door, getting Green to ground into a force out, Claudio Vargas sacrifice bunt, moving runners up to 2nd and 3rd and battling the dangerous Chris Young, before getting Young to fly to Nook Logan in center to retire the side. Rivera, at times, looks good on the mound. Tonight, he retired all 6 batters he faced over 2 innings. Ryan Wagner followed with a solid 6th inning, keeping the game close, for the crucial 7th inning comeback.
If there is one thing our Nats can do, its score runs. The pitching and fielding is whats killing them. But, tonight the Nationals did not commit an error. And, trailing 3-0 in the 4th, Austin Kearns blooped a single to center. Vidro following by ripping a 1-0 pitch down the right field line that landed right at the bottom of the right field fence, near the foul line. Rightfielder Eric Byrnes had trouble picking it up, and for some reason Kearns stopped at 3rd--What in the world was Tony Beasley--the Nats 3rd base coach thinking?--Austin then looked up, saw that the ball was still in rightfield, and jogged home for the Nats 1st run. Vidro at second with a double. With one out, Nook Logan grounding one just past Hudson, scoring Jose, 3-2 Arizona. DBacks getting one back on Traber giving up 3 consecutive singles before Rivera shut them down.
Ahead 4-2 in the 7th, Vargas would get into trouble for the final time when Bernie Castro pinch hit for Wagner, lining a single to center. Castro then stole second, with Alfonso at the plate, Soriano drawing a full count walk. Vargas replaced by Brandon Lyon, the same Lyon that walked in the winning run last week in the 11th at RFK.
In a move that I always disagree with, Frank would then get Felipe Lopez to give himself up to sacrifice the runners to 2nd and 3rd. Castro and Soriano are your fastest runners, there are no outs, the Nationals have problems scoring runs, with any outs, swing away and put the runners in motion. But, Frank doesn't listen to me.
Zimmerman followed with a full count walk off Lyon, loading the bases. Nick Johnson followed with a hard hit smash grounder up the middle, Castro and Soriano score easily and the game was tied 4-4. Kearns would walk, intentionally, after getting ahead 3-0 in the count. And, tonight's hero, and my whipping boy of late, Jose Vidro solidly grounds one up the middle scoring Z and the not so swift Nick Johnson. The Nats taking a 6-4 lead. I just know that NatsDelNegro was going NUTS at CHASE FIELD. GIVING THE HIGH FIVE TO EVERYBODY that would take it!! I'm sure it was well appreciated in the desert.
Arizona Manager, Doug Melvin would replace Lyon with LeftHander Doug Slaten to face Schneider. Brian killing the rally with an around the horn 5-4-3 double play. It was deflating, as, once again, Washington had a chance to put the game away, for good, but could not do so. Brian though would give back in the bottom of the 7th, when Rauch had runners on 1st and 2nd, 2 outs and Eric Byrnes at the plate, Byrnes would pop a low flying foul ball toward the first base dugout/stands. Schneider ran hard--all the way, basket catching the ball, with his glove hand, as he fell over the railing. It was a nice inning ending catch!!
Rauch then giving it all back in the 8th, setting up the 9th, when FLop singled to center leading off, Z infield single to short. Vizcaino would throw a wild pitch moving up the runners, and I fully expected the Dbacks to walk Nick Johnson to load the bases. But, with Austin Kearns tagging their relievers last week at RFK for 2 game winning hits, Slaten pitched to Nick, and struck him out on a foul tip.
Melvin then ordered Luis Vizcaino to intentionally walk Kearns to load the bases.
I would have pitched to Austin, instead of Vidro, Jose obviously hot tonight. Vidro would go 3-0 in the count, swing away, SURPRISINGLY, on the 4th pitch, but took ball 4--at the knees, to walk in Lopez with the eventually winning run. Schnieder would again kill the rally with a 1-2-3 rally killer double play. 7-6 Nats going to the 9th.
Chad Cordero, came on, and I would love to see him reach 30 saves this season. The Chief was on his game, getting Chris Young to ground out to FLop, Hudson on a called strike, and PUMPED UP, striking out Luis Gonzalez on 3 straight pitches. Chief jumping up and tapping his chest in excitement at the Victory. Save number 25 for Cordero.
It was a happy night for Section 320 in the Desert. 320's presence felt now at 10 Different Major League Parks during Nats Away Games. The win means that the Nationals will avoid losing 100 games this season. A moral victory, but they are unlikely to avoid the 90 loss season. Something got into Vidro--he's excited again about baseball, and delivered. Maybe deliver enough that he becomes tradable during the off season.
We just got swept by the Rockies in the Season Series. Maybe we can return the favor to the Diamondbacks over the next 2 games. Keep those fingers crossed??!!