Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Throughout the just completed off season, many questioned the potential starting pitching for Our Washington Nationals. Some wondered whether, offensively, the team could score some runs on a consistent basis. But, virtually NO ONE pondered the defensive capabilities of Washington's Home Team entering its third season of play. In fact, many considered The Nationals fairly solid in the field. Then, First Baseman Nick Johnson unexpectedly recovered slowly from his broken femur. "THE GUZ", Cristian Guzman pulled a hamstring on Opening Day playing in his first regular season game since 2005. And Nook Logan, General Manager Jim Bowden's personal pick to patrol the vast outfield wasteland of RFK Stadium, hyper extended his left foot chasing down a deep drive to right center on Monday. All three now on the Disabled List. How quickly times can change. Tonight The Nationals not only looked flat for a second consecutive game, but in the field they played a little like "THE BAD NEWS BEARS".
When Shawn Hill recorded the first out of tonight's game at RFK Stadium on his 28th pitch of the first inning, Our Washington Nationals were already down 2-0 to The Florida Marlins. Some very bad fielding by Josh Wilson and Dimitri Young had put Hill in the hole earlier. And, when Shawn gave up a 2 run single four pitches later making it 4-0, this game was once again--OVER EARLY. The Marlins took Game 2 of the 2007 Season by a 9-3 Score.
This on a night "THE NOISE BOYS" were not in attendance, Section 320 was surprisingly quiet--Virtually No Life, a rarity for a Nationals Home Game. Only Mr & Mrs. MickNats, Abby, Becky and Mike along with The African Queen and I posted up. Considering the way Washington came out to play tonight, maybe were should have all stayed home too. Colleen dropped by with Jeff shortly after the first inning debacle and stated: "We've read all spring long how terrible The Nationals are going to be. But, watching it all play out in living color in front of our very eyes, really sucks!!" And, it did.
Even Screech came by and was STUNNED by the light turnout in Section 320. Knowing the "Noise Boys" can sometimes be late, Screech pretended to look at his watch to ask where they may be. When he realized they would not be there, his head dropped and shook from side to side in sadness. Even Screech understands the audible levels the "NOISE BOYS" can reach and bring to RFK each and every game. But, he did blow kisses to The African Queen.
Those fans that did not watch this game, missed out on miscue after miscue in the field. Shortstop Josh Wilson, replacing the injured Cristian Guzman looked flat out AFRAID to field a grounder. In the first, Josh dove to his left to stop a grounder by Dan Uggla. With Hanley Ramirez running from first on the play, Wilson decided to rush a toss to Felipe Lopez at second in an attempt to get a double play. Instead his glove hand toss sailed right past FLop, and everyone was safe. Josh, buddy, get the sure out next time. Amazingly, the Offical Scorer ruled the play a Fielders Choice (I got to meet the Nats Official Scorer, he's very player friendly--very generous for their stats). Then a routine grounder to Young's right at first, bounced right off his glove and caromed into right field scoring the first two runs of the evening. In the second, Josh went to backhand a Miguel Cabrera grounder only to see it go right through his glove. Number 12 whiffing on the catch. Then, Wilson would throw away a easy grounder in the third for his first official error, and stumble through nearly every fielding chance his way tonight. Only a 6-4-3 Double Play in the 9th started by Josh went cleanly. He was bad in the field.
Felipe Lopez showed some inexperience at Second Base tonight. In the 6th, Florida loaded up the bases with 1 out against Nats reliever Ray King. Marlins Starter Scott Olsen grounded weakly toward Dimitri Young just to the left of King. FLop moved in also. Young cut off the ball and fired to second, rightly so. FLop gave up on the play, and so did King--no one covering first. Wilson had no one to throw the ball back to, at first base, for an inning ending Double Play. The Marlins scored their 6th run of the evening on that mistake. Having seen enough, the fans began to BOO!!
Later, in the 7th, Miguel Cabrera would lace a liner to the wall in deep center. As Wilson went out to cut off the throw back to the infield from Ryan Church, Lopez followed. No one covering second base as Cabrera trotted in freely. Then, in the 9th, Mike Jacobs hit a liner right at Church in center. As has been his problem in the past, liners right at Ryan, he does not judge well. Number 19 came in on the ball, only to see it sail over his head. "The Chief" Chad Cordero gave up two earned runs on that last fielding mistake of the evening to finish out the scoring.
As the errors, both physical and mental, piled up and the chances for a Washington Nationals comeback plummeted, so did the weather and the crowd. Many in the attendance of 20,894 showed up in summer wear--shorts sleeves, tees and shorts for the 75 Degree start. Only to see the weather plunge into the low 50's by games end. By the 8th inning, tonight's affair became a friends and family special. Only a thousand or so die hards sat through this one to its somber end.
With an offense that has shown little muscle in two games, there is no way Our Washington Nationals could have overcome their problems tonight. Bad Defense and less than stellar pitching has put the team in a hole they can not recover thus far. Although, Shawn Hill would actually settle down after the first and surprisingly make it through the fifth inning, throwing 80 pitches, 52 for strikes. He had no chance tonight and was deserving of a better outcome.
As in most every single baseball game, no matter how far you are down, one chance will arise to give you hope of a comeback. Sure enough, it occurred for Washington tonight in the 6th inning. With The Marlins Olsen tiring, Our Nationals would load up the bases on a FLop walk, Kory Casto (playing his first MLB Game) walk, a Ryan Zimmerman fielders choice out, and an Austin Kearns Walk. With one out, Young would then walk in the Nats first run of the evening. The modest crowd began to stir for the first time tonight. Then Brian Schneider would sacrifice fly home "Z". Now, with two runners on and two runs in, Church stepped up to the plate and SHOWED NO PATIENCE--popping out to the catcher to kill the rally. What little air was in Washington's Balloon was extinguished on that final out of the 6th. NO WAY Our Washington Nationals make the big comeback tonight.
Through the first two games of the season, Washington has used 9 separate pitchers. Combined, they have given up 25 hits, 11 Walks and 17 earned runs. Only Jesus Colome and Jon Rauch are unscored upon. If the Nationals starting pitching continues to be unable to go late into a game, this bullpen will be wasted by the end of April. That's not a good sign, folks.
As much as Felipe Lopez struggled at shortstop last season (26 errors) with some head shaking errors, FLop is our best choice right now to fill the void at shortstop while "THE GUZ" recovers from his pulled hamstring. The Nationals signed Ronnie Belliard, for just this reason, an unexpected turn in player personnel due to injury. Time to place Ronnie at second, Felipe at short. There are no other choices in center. My Main Man!!-Ryan Church needs to pull it all together.
From a fans standpoint, Game Two of The 2007 Season was just as lifeless as Monday's Opener. That's sad. Our Washington Nationals need to play with some more energy and pride. The African Queen mentioned that If Manager Manny Acta can keep that smile going while Our Nationals work out these early season kinks, he's one GREAT MAN!!
While leaving RFK Tonight, MickNats jokingly said: "When do you think we should start wearing bags over our heads?" More than a few fans turned around, laughed, commenting--"How about tomorrow afternoon."
For the OFFICIAL RECORD--Thomas Jefferson won his second consecutive Presidents Race Tonight. Teddy Roosevelt once again attempted to cheat, popping up from the groundskeepers well down the right field line during the race in a attempt to beat his fellow "Rushmores". Even while trying to beat the odds, Teddy still came up a loser, finishing dead last, once again.
And, my Metro Nationals Game Riding Friend, Janet, stopped by for a hello before the game, along with a host of others. Please stop anytime to say hello and chat. The African Queen and I appreciate the nice comments from everyone.
PS- Metro Failed MISERABLY TONIGHT after the game. Even with only a few thousand to commute from RFK to the suburbs due to the early exiting crowd, Metro could not move fans to Virginia in a timely manner. Reaching the Stadium Armory Station at 10:15PM, we jumped on a Blue Line Train to transfer at L'Enfant Plaza to The Yellow Line. At the transfer point, not a single Yellow Line Train showed up for 30 minutes--without explanation. Two Metro Employees standing on the platform, gabbing away while riders fumed on the platform, being of no help. Eventually, the sign boards read 15 Minutes until the next Huntington Bound Train. So, The Queen and I headed back down to the blue line to Franconia Springfield. Jumped on board the arriving train. Only to see that train sit in the Dark at Arlington Cemetery for 10 minutes and then another 20 minutes at Crystal City. No explanation, as usual from Metro. Arrival Time at King Street 11:55PM. Sohna asked the King Street Station Manager what was the delay. His response: "What Delay?" Seriously--that's what he said!! If Metro and Our Washington Nationals are going to encourage everyone to take the train to the ballpark, stuff like this just can't happen.