Saturday, April 21, 2007
On The Job Training
When Our Manager Manny Acta finally walked out to the mound tonight to relieve Matt Chico at Dolphin Stadium, I found found myself chuckling. How in the world were Our Washington Nationals STILL IN THIS GAME!! The score was only 5-3 Marlins with two outs in the fifth inning. Florida should have been well ahead, because Chico simply was not good. Although this 23 year old is a gamer and hangs tough, his inexperience showed.
On most other teams in Major League Baseball--Matt Chico would have been out of this ballgame much earlier. But, for 2007 Version of Our Washington Nationals this was a night for a young pitcher to learn, no matter how frustrating his performance was. And, Number 47 was all over the place. Anyone that walks the opposing teams pitcher twice, throws a wild pitch to that same pitcher to score a run and proceeds to walk SEVEN HITTERS, GIVING UP Six Hits in the process has ALOT TO LEARN. When Manny took Chico out of tonight's game he had given up 5 Earned Runs resulting in a season ERA of 6.38. That's a long learning curve. Randy St.Claire needs to inform him to THROW SOME MORE STRIKES, especially first pitch strikes.
When your team is building from within, attempting to re-load for the long term, the effort tonight has got to be expected. I have no doubt, NO DOUBT-Some do not, or will not, put up with the tonight's play by Our Washington Nationals. But, if Our Washington Nationals CAN NOT find out what their current corps of players can do, then WE ARE ALL WASTING OUR TIME!!. Matt Chico is a Major Part of Our Washington Nationals Re-Building Project. So, his up and down starting effort tonight is part of that process. Disappointing, Yes, but not the end of the world. Chico is definitely not going to be A 1986 Dwight Gooden Era, Super Fantastic Rookie coming out of nowhere. What Matt is doing, is learning on the job. And, Thanks to The Scrappy Nature of Our Pesky 2007 Washington Nationals, Chico was able to stay in tonight's game, when for all intents and purposes he had no right to. Since the 1-8 start, The Nationals have played decent baseball, getting 5 wins to 4 loses.
Reliever Ryan Wagner, who I like alot, also simply was not good tonight. While Chico left the game with the game still having a glimmer of hope for a comeback, Wagner just gave the game away. 5 Hits, 1 Walk, 1 Home Run, 4 Runs Scored, 3 Earned, his own Throwing Error--A close game was no longer. At 9-3, this game was OVER. At 24 years of age, Wagner has a ton of talent. Unfortunately, consistency, thus far, has been a problem for Ryan.
Overall, Pitching, has been The Nationals crutch all April--not unexpected by just about everyone that follows the game. And, that pitching, mostly the starters, continues to hamper this team's efforts. You can only play from behind every so often and expect to win.
9-3 Marlins the Final Score Tonight.
Still, you can take some good moments out of this one.
My Main Man!! Ryan Church continues to impress. A nice opposite field drive off the wall in left to score Ryan Zimmerman in the fifth shows his comfort level at the plate. Number 19 is just playing baseball. Ryan is not worried about each and every At-Bat, and whether his very next strike out or mistake in the field, will bench him for the next two weeks. Manny Acta seems to understand Church's potential.
Ryan Zimmerman shows shades of breaking out of his season long slump. Ryan collected 2 hits tonight, including a double to the gap in left and an RBI Single to raise his average to .234--Well above what Section 320 has been calling the "ZimDoza" Line (.200). "Z" needs a Homer, a game winning hit. More and More no protection before or after Ryan is killing his at bats. Few are getting on base. And, when runners do, other teams DO NOT FEAR Dimitri Young batting behind Zimmerman. Believe me, that is in no way a comment to disrespect Young. Dimitri Young has been a decent stick in the lineup. But, Nick Johnson is a force at the plate. Johnson is patient, willing to take a walk, looking for the good pitch to hit. While waiting, every single team understood Nick's ability to hit the ball out of the park. That's respect. Respect that Dimitri Young has not earned, yet.
FLop continues to wield a hot bat. Two hits tonight, raising his average to .308. Felipe Lopez showing shades of a real leadoff hitter.
Game Notes and Highlights:
Of course, I have yet to mention Matt Chico's amazing pitch to Josh Willingham in the top of the first when Matt lost grip of the ball in his delivery. The site of a baseball leaving a pitcher's hand and landing OVER TOP THE FIRST BASE DUGOUT, HILARIOUS TO WITNESS. As funny as the moment was, Matt showed no emotion, returning to strike out Willingham during this At-Bat. Matt Chico certainly needs some more seasoning, but he definitely has guile. No doubt, he will be remined of that moment for the rest of his life. ESPN's SportCenter will play the video FOREVER!!
Later, in the top of the second, Ryan Church would bloop a sure out just behind 3rd base and shortstop. Marlins 3rd Baseman Aaron Boone had the ball tracked all the way. Amazingly, at the very last moment, Boone peeled off believing Shortstop Hanley Ramirez had called for the ball. The baseball dropping safely to the turf. Church safe at first, resulting in Our Washington Nationals first run of the night. Its funny how baseball can play out sometimes.
In the top of the 3rd inning, personally I had a flashback to an occurrence to me in a Minor League Game nearly 27 years ago. While batting against the Lynchburg Mets in a Carolina League Game, I was hit on my left hand by a inside fastball courtesy of Sid Fernandez. The Big Burly Lefthander, who later played for The New York Mets, Phillies and Orioles, could fire the ball. Fernandez broke by fifth metacarpal bone in my little pinky finger that night. I was out 2 months. When Anibel Sanchez hit Ronnie Belliard tonight, I felt like I was on the field with him, reliving the pain. Fortunately, Belliard was OK. Years ago, I was not.
Finally, as I have stated previously, Don Sutton is wonderful to listen to on MASN. His understanding of the game, the situations and what players should do in said circumstances marvelous to hear. Really, I can't say enough good things about him. Sutton is honest and straightforward. His partner, Bob Carpenter, I haven't quite figured out yet.
Tonight's In Game Photos--(AP) Alan Diaz