Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Andruw Makes It Offical (Again) & Hudson WAS MASTERFUL!!

UPDATE: I checked, Andruw Jones has hit 13 Home Runs in two seasons against Our Washington Nationals. 7 at RFK Stadium--Remarkable!
Truthfully, I don't have the foggiest idea how many Home Runs Atlanta Braves Centerfielder Andruw Jones has hit against Our Washington Nationals, but it sure seems like every single time we play the Braves, Andruw lets loose. Its become tradition at RFK Stadium in Section 320 for me to state that no Nats/Braves Game is ever Official Unless Jones Clouts a Homer.

Well, it didn't take Andruw long tonight to get a good piece of Matt Chico. Matt making his second Major League Start ever. Leading off the bottom of the 4th inning, Jones powered a Chico fastball DEEP and Well Over the left field wall at Turner Field. Watching the game on MASN 2, I just started laughing. The African Queen knew right away the reason for my amusement. I am sure, MickNats, if also watching this game at home, knew exactly what I was thinking. This Nats/Braves Game Was Official, once again, courtesy of an Andruw Jones Home Run, making the score 1-0 Bravos.

What made that Home Run worse was watching Atlanta Braves starter Tim Hudson AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME. His splitter was nasty, and his tailing fastball was consistently hammered in on a Washington Batter's wrists. In the top of the 4th, Chris Snelling got his welcome to some Serious National League Ball when Hudson just flat out threw one jam pitch after another inside, finally breaking "Yoda's" bat on an easy ground out to short. Nationals hitters never got things going against Hudson, seven strike outs through 5 innings. Although The Nationals did improve on Livan Hernandez's effort against them on Sunday. Ronnie Belliard singled to center in the top of the fifth, this time, to break up the no-hitter.

Having attended each and every Nationals Game in person until tonight, I had never watched MASN with Rob Carpenter and Don Sutton, as partners, on Television. Sutton is extremely impressive. His insight on pitching is an art form all it own. He understands the game, the situations and what a pitcher should or should not throw under every situation. In the bottom of the 5th, with Edgar Renteria on second (via a Belliard error) and Chipper Jones on first with two outs, the free swinging Jeff Francouer was at the plate with a 2-2 count. Sutton, right before Chico's pitch stated, "You just don't throw Francouer a strike in this situation. Just throw the ball anywhere outside the strike zone." Chico proceeded to throw a curveball over the plate that Francouer hammered to right center, off the wall, scoring both runners and putting Our Nationals behind 3-0.

Then, when Brian McCann followed with another double off the right field wall to score Francouer making the score 4-0, Sutton commented. "I don't understand why Chico and Schneider have decided to put his curve ball more over the plate this inning. Chico was having success throwing that pitch outside the plate. The Braves were biting. I am going to have to ask them." I love Don Sutton. Hopefully, he will remain in Washington for years to come as a broadcaster. Any Nats Fan can learn baseball from that Hall Of Famer. On top of all that, Sutton is a terrific and genuinely nice man. And, a Big Fan of The African Queen.

With The Braves now up four heading to the 6th, this game was over with Tim Hudson mastering Our Nationals on the mound. Tim would go seven strong innings, only allowing 3 meek hits, 1 walk over 98 pitches, 63 for strikes. Hudson pounded in the first pitch strike, staying ahead, never losing control. He was Fabulous! Any real baseball fan had to appreciate that performance. I don't care about the level of the competition, either. The Yankees would have had problems with Hudson tonight. And, when Our Manager, Manny Acta sent Ray King out to mop up the 8th inning, Ray was unloaded on by The Braves, giving up a three run bomb to Francouer. This game was not only over, but sealed away, 8-0 Atlanta over Our Washington Nationals.

Game Notes & Highlights:

Chico actually pitched quite well off the top of this game, making it into the 5th, where, once again, a fundamental error led to Matt not making it out of the 5th inning. Chico is on the Major League Learning curve right now. Number 47's got the stuff, but NO EXPERIENCE. Unfortunately, Matt Chico is learning the hard way--On The Job Training.

As for Ronnie Belliard, he faded back on a pop up down the right field line by Renteria, but seemed to worry about Austin Kearns charging in to potentially make the play. Earlier in the game, both Belliard and Kearns had collided, but not violently, on a shallow fly ball. Kearns had called the ball, but Ronnie didn't back off. Kearns was visibly upset. Immediately, I thought of the Nick Johnson incident at Shea Stadium last September that broke Johnson's Femur.

When Belliard dropped the Renteria pop, Kearns held back, and Belliard seemed unsure whether he should take the fly or not. And, he missed it. Rob Carpenter then also mentioned the Nick Johnson Situation. At Spring Training in Viera, Kearns personally told me he's not worried about colliding with any other defenders on the field while chasing flies. But, I have always felt he will be disturbed mentally until Nick returns 100%. Tonight, may well have proven me correct. Nevertheless, Ronnie Belliard should have caught the pop. No excuses.

72 innings played, 1 inning with a lead. Only 19 runs scored over those 8 games. Only One Starter has made it out of the 6th inning--Shawn Hill, this past Sunday. Simply, Not Competitive.

Is the most Charismatics Manager in the game, Manny Acta, still SMILING? I hope so.

Oh, and by the way. Atlanta has got to be the Worst Sports Town in America. Only an announced crowd of 18,396 on a nice cool spring night at Turner Field for a Team that has won their Division 13 out of 14 years. The Braves couldn't even sell out Playoff Games. The actual crowd tonight was far less than the official count. The Stands were EMPTY. Honestly, we have a far greater and stronger fan base in Washington than anything Atlanta has ever had. Our Washington Nationals fans have passion, whether they agree with the current direction of the team, or not. That speaks volumes for Our Nation's Capital.

Tonight's Game Photos--AP, John Bazemore


Bang the Drum Natly said...

Nice post...

I fully agree with your comments about Sutton, and that call with Francouer at the plate was spot on, if only because when I was walking home listening to the first portion of the game, Free-swingin' Frankie was at the plate, and according to Mr. Slowes, Chico struck him out flailing at a 57-foot bouncer.

I gotta say, based on what I've witnessed so far, I like what I see from Chico. He has most definitely shown promise, especially for a 23-year-old rookie - particularly in regards to his poise and not letting the pressure/emotions get the best of him. He is young, and still has a lot to learn, but I like the foundation.

I also have to say that Hudson was (to use a Harold Reynolds phrase - why is he gone from ESPN? I sense another google session coming on) "Filthy." As much as I hated to see my Nats struggle time and time again at the plate, no matter who, no matter which side, it was impressive, no doubt, and I gotta give respect. He was smokin'.

And yes, SBF, I had to crack up when A. Jones launched it, remembering many a-time when he'd launch one at RFK and hearing you immediately belt out "IT'S OFFICIAL!!!! (Unfortunately, as in too many times in the past, it once again became the now traditional point of prophecy for an official Nats loss!)


Bang the Drum Natly said...

Oh, and to chime in on the comment about the participation (or lack thereof) of the Atlanta fans, I remember being in absolute shock at seeing an insane amount of empty seats during Braves playoff games. It was really sad to see.


Janet said...

The thing I find most frustrating is our FIELDING. Our pitching staff is inexperienced, our offense hasn't gotten much going. But why, why, why do we have veterans making errors that undermine what progress is made elsewhere? Four runs allowed by the starter, with ONE earned?!? That's insane.

JayB said...


Great Point! What is it about Nats organization to date that leads to these errors....we are not going anywhere with the organization until we address the mind set that has allowed errors (worest in baseball!!??!!) to become common place and "just part of the game"

Sorry Manny I do not agree!

Jim said...

Why the errors? Because Jimbo decided he wanted offense at first base. Therefore, Mr. Young...no can pick up a throw.

Guzman - out. Lopez - shifts. Belliard - in.

Oh, and Mr. Reynolds is off ESPN due to charges of inappropriate conduct by female coworkers. He was fired during the season last year. I don't know if anything further came of it...I believe he denied the accusations.