Saturday, April 28, 2007
The Mastery of This GREAT GAME to RIP MY HEART OUT at the very moment I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MUCH HAPPIER, is what makes BASEBALL SO COMPELLING. Tonight, 29,292 witnessed one of the WILDEST GAMES ever played by Our Washington Nationals since baseball returned to The Nation's Capital in 2005. RFK Stadium Rocked. This One HAD IT ALL. Some of which, including a Two Out, Two Strike Game Changing Moment, was not good, and extremely costly.
A Sure Fire Hall of Fame pitcher tossed a one hitter entering the 6th inning. His Journeyman counterpart--A NO HITTER. One of finest young fielders in the game today, made three terrific defensive gems, Highlight Reel Plays, then inexplicably threw away the final out of the 7th inning, putting tonight's opponent, The New York Mets back into the game. He also got plunked in the spine on a breaking pitch. One Manager would be kicked out the game. A pitcher would nearly hit a home run, then while watching the ball's flight, forget to run. The Ball hitting off the left field wall, leaving the hitter with merely a single. And, with two outs, nobody on base and a one run lead in hand in the top of the 9th, all HELL WOULD BREAK LOOSE. Two BANG BANG PLAYS, one of which, had EVERY FAN BELIEVING their team had just won or tied the game. Both of which sent this affair, AMAZINGLY, INTO EXTRA INNINGS. 12 innings, in fact, where New York's FANS eventually took over RFK STADIUM as more and more Nationals Fans went home. Was that EVER SADDENING. Our Washington Nationals continuing to fail at plating runners from scoring position. Something The Mets will, more time than not, succeed. When the final out was recorded 3 Hours & 59 Minutes after it began, The Mets might as well have been playing at SHEA STADIUM. Their Fans Owned RFK STADIUM. Not even Section 320, all of us staying until the bitter end, could overturn this tidal force.
In Gut Wrenching Style, Our Washington Nationals lost to the New York Mets, 6-2, on a night most anyone attending will not soon forget. Personally, I have to be up at 7AM tomorrow. Seriously, I doubt if I will be able to sleep this off. This Loss Hurt, BADLY. All because, of that wicked top of the 9th. With "The Chief Cardiologist" needing just one more out, not a single Washington Nationals Fan DID NOT BELIEVE Chad Cordero was going to close this one out. Up 2-1 on a clutch two out double by Ronnie Belliard in the bottom of the 8th scoring Jesus Flores, every single remaining Nats Fan was relishing a series win and another night of shutting down New York's OUTRAGEOUS FANS. What could be sweeter?
Yet, Shawn Green stepped to the plate and ripped the very first pitch from Chad to right for a clean single. Endy Chavez entered to pinch run. Damion Easley was next. The Fate of Baseball came into play. Easley, was in this game only because Mets Starting Second Baseman, Jose Valentin, hurt himself earlier in the affair. Valentin having to leave, Easley his replacement. Batting righthanded, Damion worked deep into the count. Ball one, Swinging Strike, Ball Two--CALLED STRIKE TWO!! The Mets down to their final strike of their final out. Really, this game was over. The RFK STADIUM CROWD WAS ROARING!! Easley fouled off Cordero's next offering. Then, on the sixth pitch of this At-Bat, Easley grounded into the hole between 3rd and Shortstop. A sure game ending out. Ryan Zimmerman seemed to have the better angle, but stayed back from the ball at the last moment. Felipe Lopez backhanded the ball, but seeing Easley running hard, did not set to throw across the diamond. Instead, FLop threw off his wrong foot, still getting some umph on the ball, the toss though not overly strong. All Night Long, First Base Umpire Tony Randazzo was in the spotlight on some very close calls. On this GAME CHANGER, Randazzo, by a hair lash, called Easley SAFE!! Chavez moving to second. The Collective Roar of DISGUST from Nats Fans alongside the vocal cheers of Mets Fans realizing their life extended, heart wrenching.
Then, it only got worse. No way, Our Washington Nationals want to see Julio Franco Pinch Hit in this situation with the game on the line. The 48 Year Old is quite savvy. Nothing will distract him. Distraction what Chad Cordero can't seem to get out of his mind. Sure enough, Franco would take ball one in the dirt, then DRILL Number 32's next fastball to right on a line. Endy Chavez running all the way looking to tie the game on this stroke. Austin Kearns took a nice track to the bouncing ball, scooped it up and UNLEASHED a beautiful throw to the plate. EVERYONE STANDING ROARING AT THE POTENTIAL OUTCOME.
This was going to be close. The ball bounced off the grass right into catcher Jesus Flores' Glove, but instead of letting the ball come to him, Jesus reached for the ball, slightly pulling himself away from the plate, toward the first base side of home. Chavez slid to the right back half of home plate. With EVERY FAN NOW ON THEIR FEET, NATS FANS BELIEVING CHAVEZ WAS OUT!! NEW YORKERS SAFE!! HOME PLATE UMPIRE GREG GIPSON EMPHATICALLY RULED SAFE!!! Game Tied. RFK Stadium erupting in shock and disbelief for Washington Fans. Mets Fans RUBBING IT IN!! "The Chief" Chad Cordero looking, not only stunned, but shocked at this unbelievable turn of events.
Just like that- a sure win was now gone. A Sure Win lost by the slimmest of margins. Mere split seconds on both close calls. How MADDENING BASEBALL CAN BE. And, when Our Washington Nationals could not plate the winning run in the bottom half of the 9th with two runners on and Robert Fick striking out badly to end the inning-many Nats Fans began to realize this was not going to be our night. As well as Our Pitching had shut down the vaunted Mets Lineup both last night and tonight, you just knew, their mighty bats would wake soon. Which they finally did in the 12th against a tired Saul Rivera. Pitching his 4th relief inning in less than 24 hours, Number 52 began to falter. Tonight's New York Game Changer, Easley, would double down the left field line. Ramon Castro would walk, then Jose Reyes would cleanly bunt safely toward third. A gorgeous bunt, along with his speed, gave Zimmerman no chance--loading the bases with nobody out. NEW YORKER'S really bringing it now. "Let GO METS!!" heard all over the cavernous ballpark.
Our Manager, Manny Acta then slowly walked out to relieve Rivera for Ryan Wagner. Two pitches later, THIS GAME WAS OVER. Paul Lo Duca would swing at Ryan's first pitch, grounding to Lopez, drawn in. FLop fired home for out number 1. Still Bases Loaded. The very dangerous, Carlos Beltran followed and sharply grounded Ryan's very next pitch down the right field line. Castro and Reyes score. 4-2 now. And, the PA System might as well have been playing "NEW YORK, NEW YORK" Many Mets Fans living the good life. Their comeback was complete. After intentionally walking Carlos Delgado to reload the bases for a force play, Wagner hammered the final coffin nail when David Wright singled to left, scoring Lo Duca and Beltran, finishing out the scoring, 6-2 Mets.
With 100MPH Fastball Closer, Billy Wagner coming out for the bottom of the 12th. The GAME WAS OVER, SADLY. Except for Khalil Greene's & Mike Piazza's 9th inning Home Runs off Cordero last July 9th in a come from behind win for San Diego over Our Washington Nationals at RFK, I can't recall a more depressing state while leaving the stadium after a game. All the way home, I was silent. The African Queen realizing, I just did not wish to talk about the loss tonight. And, in fact, am having a very difficult time writing about it. We lost TO THE METS, in a game, WE SHOULD HAVE WON, on a night, New Yorker's PUT IT IN OUR FACE--in our Very Own BALLPARK!! And, MOST OF OUR FANS WENT HOME EARLY!! In a Thriller. That sucks!!
As I mentioned yesterday, the atmosphere provided by a New York Team's following is always exciting. Yet that enjoyment quickly dissapates when Our Very OWN HOME FANS DID NOT SEEM TO CARE.
This game was played on a SATURDAY NIGHT!! Where are all you supposed Nationals' Fans GOING!!?? 15,000 of you are not going to work on Sunday Morning. I can understand a weeknight. But, not many Nats Fans have an excuse for the weekends. This really bothers me. And, it left RFK to New Yorkers to claim.
Game Notes & Highlights:
Tom Glavine was the Potential Hall of Famer who pitched a solid 6 innings tonight, but was not involved in the final decision.
Despite 5 walks, Jerome Williams surprised, probably even himself, by throwing a NO HITTER for 5.1 innings. Later, it was Williams who clobbered a two strike fastball from Glavine to the wall in left and proceeded to admire his blast, then shockingly discover the ball was not launched as far as he thought. Jerome Embarrassing himself by getting a single on a sure double. Then, attempting to break up the double play while running from first base on a grounder, twisted his ankle, resulting in Williams being taken out of the game after walking David Wright leading off the 7th.
In the top of the 5th, Ryan Zimmerman would snare two sharp grounders to his right, throwing out Damion Easley and the speedy Jose Reyes. For Reyes, Ryan dove to the line, picked himself up, threw off balance, and bounced the ball to Dimitri Young at first. It was The Defensive Play of the Game. Both close calls. Calls which Mets Manager Willie Randolph did not agree with. Eventually, Randolph would be tossed by Randazzo, the First Base Umpire, for arguing another close call, this time on an infield single by Felipe Lopez. Also, Zimmerman would turn his third 4-5-3 Double Play of the past week during an overshift with Carlos Delgado at the plate for the Mets.
But, in the 7th, disaster struck, "Z" would field a routine grounder by Easley with Green on first. Ryan decided to go the short way to second to end the inning with Green. Not setting his feet, Zimmerman just flipped the ball, and it sailed past Ronnie Belliard into short right field. Green moving to third, where he scored on a Wild Pitch by Jesus Colome. Cheap Run, and it was costly.
Ronnie Belliard had a terrific night. Getting three hits, two doubles and knocking in both Nats Runs tonight on identical pulled doubles down the leftfield line. If not for the terrible top of the 9th, Ronnie Belliard would have been Our Hero TONIGHT!!
In the bottom of the 3rd inning, two outs, Felipe Lopez on first. Ronnie Belliard was at the plate with a 3-1 count. On the pitch from Tom Glavine, FLop took off, Belliard took called strike two. Lopez, for whatever reason thought Ronnie had struck out, which he had not. Felipe stopped running and was tagged out by Jose Reyes on a throw from Paul LoDuca. Just terrible baserunning and not having your head in the game.
When Jesus Colome entered the game. Jesus found himself pitching to Jesus Flores. His first batter faced was Moises Alou. MickNats turned to me stating: "Jesus is pitching to Jesus and Moises (Moses) is at the plate. I guess this game change is of BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS!" We all laughed. It was funny. And, in retrospect, turned out to be true.
Later, The African Queen noted: "Maybe, we just didn't have a prayer."
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Linda Spillers