Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Losing A Near Perfect Game
When Jamie Moyer completely discombobulated Our Washington Nationals last Thursday afternoon, the aging Philadelphia Phillies lefthander did his magic with the help of his opponents. Each and Every Nationals Hitter that day came to the plate believing Moyer was Nolan Ryan in his prime, fireballing away. Expecting fastballs, Washington Hitters proceeded to swing at every piece of junk Jamie threw at RFK Stadium. Not ONE NAT'S HITTER made an adjustment. Most looked silly, and all were ineffective. Many getting themselves out.
With that thorough whooping still fresh in their minds, Our Washington Nationals came out tonight against Moyer with a far different game plan. Forget about what works for you as a hitter, most Washington batters this evening waited, sitting back, looking for what Moyer throws, not what they wanted. And, it worked, for a time.
Then, to add ZEST to this affair, Tonight's Nats Starter, Jason Bergmann decided to just let The PHILLIES HIT HIM!! What does it matter if hitters are getting themselves out, they were overswinging at everything. For Jason, Be Jamie Moyer, for one night. Bergmann taking advantage of Philadelphia's impatience. Turnabout is not only fair play, but sweet.
Bergmann was cruising along into the 6th, ahead 3-1, then ONE AT-BAT changed this game. With two out in the bottom of the sixth, Chase Utley doubled to the wall in left center that Michael Restovich slid for, the ball hitting his glove, but the smash landing safely on the warning track. Up stepped the very dangerous Ryan Howard. The Reigning MVP has struggled through the early portion of 2007. Knowing this, Jason fired away, getting well ahead in the count, 1-2. All Number 57 had to do was finish Howard off. He couldn't do it. If there is one flaw in Ryan Howard's swing, is his inability to consistently make contact with a HIGH FASTBALL. Bergmann, who to this point had pitched smart baseball--became cautious, throwing outside breaking pitch after another, not willling to challenge Ryan. His one fastball was well outside. Bergmann was nervous and it cost him. Eventually, Howard walked. And, when Pat Burrell followed with a double to left, scoring Utley to make the score 3-2, Our Washington Nationals had positioned themselves to lose a game they may well have been able to win.
Saul Rivera relieved Bergmann for the 7th and promptly gave up a game tying homer to Aaron Rowand. Then, Jon Rauch continued to struggle with a bad 8th inning, in relief of Micah Bowie. A walk and two singles allowed a Bowie Inherited runner to score and two additional more. Our Washington Nationals now down 6-3, eventually the final score. One cautious At-Bat had changed the entire dimension of this game. If Bergmann goes after Howard, he survives into the 7th with a two run lead. Tonight's ballgame was his to win. A win he had no decision in at the conclusion, because Jason Bergmann WOULD NOT challenge a GREAT HITTER when it counted THE MOST.
Through 5 2/3rds inning Our Washington Nationals played a near perfect game. But, being an imperfect team, they once again showed why they are struggling. With the game on the line, The Nationals could not close it out. A very disappointing lost.
Game Notes and Highlights:
My Main Man!! Ryan Church, who looked as silly as most last week against Jamie, sat back for the slow stuff on a 2-2 count, his hips set, not swinging out open, and drove a Moyer pitch off the wall in right in the 2nd to score Austin Kearns for a quick 1-0 lead. Kearns had received a gift triple with Phillies Centerfielder Aaron Rowand thought too much, and dove for a drive to center he had NO CHANCE of catching. The Ball scooting pass Rowand to the wall for a stand up three bagger for Austin. The African Queen noticing, for the first time this season, how thinner Kearns looks than last season. And, he does. Kearns looks in shape and healthy.
Later in the 3rd, Felipe Lopez would sit back and drive a single to left off Moyer, the Belliard would follow with a liner down the left field line for a nice double, FLop scoring easily for a the second run of the night. Good Baseball, letting the game develop in front of you. And, when Brian Schneider hit a two single to center scoring Austin Kearns for a 3-1 Nats lead in the 6th, not one fan rooting for Washington did not believe this game was in hand. Unfortunately, it wasn't.
By the way, Schnieder, despite his below the Mendoza Line (under .200) batting average, knocked in his team leading 10th RBI on that third run of the game.
The Phillies scored their first run of the evening in frustrating fashion after Ryan Zimmerman made a nice play on a hard hit grounder by Wes Helms over the bag but moving him into foul territory. On the throw, Dimitri Young could not keep his foot on the bag for an error. Then Aaron Rowand would account for his mental mistake in the top of the 2nd by powering a drive to right center. As much as I love Ryan Church, it always bothers me that he refuses to dive, HEAD FIRST, for a drive. He didn't again tonight, missing the ball by a mere foot in a backhanded attempt. A run scoring double for Rowand. The only time this season I have wished for Nook Logan to have been playing centerfield. But, honestly, I would take Church over Logan any day. Ryan's offense is far more valuable than Nook's limited batting potential.
"Z" committed his 5th error of this young season when he missed a short hop on a Ryan Church toss to third during the crucial three run 8th inning for Philadelphia. Zimmerman only committed 15 errors all last season. He's on pace right now to make nearly 30. That's amazing!! for such a talented player.
Tonight's In Game Photos--(AP) Rusty Kennedy
PS--Virginia Tech, I just returned. Sad is the only way to explain it. JUST SAD. What is wrong with this world sometimes.