Wednesday, May 23, 2007
My Main Man!!
He was injured, again. Hit by pitch right on the wrist last Sunday against The Baltimore Orioles. He tried to stay in the game. But, Our Manager Manny Acta, thought it wise to take him out, protecting him for the future. Tonight, DID HE EVER VALIDATE HIS STUFF!!--Proving he is a VALUABLE PLAYER. There is NO DOUBT in my mind, nor Manny's that MY MAIN MAN!! can produce, if just left alone. Did Ryan Church EVER ESTABLISH THAT FACT against The Cincinnati Reds. Two Home Runs and A Bases Clearing Three Run Double to left center. Six RBI's--A GREAT NIGHT FOR MY FAVORITE PLAYER. I couldn't be happer. Ryan Church lead the way, in tonight's BIGGEST OUTPUT of the season by Our Washington Nationals. A 12-7 Slugfest that I could not have enjoyed more.
Church was JUST FABULOUS. Exactly what you want to see out of your Clean Up Hitter. Since 2005, I have felt that Ryan Church was talented. Just leave him out there. Let Him Play. That's all he asked for. That's all, I asked for. That's all many fans wanted to see. What a difference The Manager Makes. Sorry, but its true. No matter How Much I LOVE FRANK ROBINSON.
And, it was a good thing "Church On Wednesday" was in full effect. Because Our Relief Pitching tonight was NOT GOOD. Our Bullpen kept The Reds in a game, they had NO RIGHT TO BE IN. In fact, before Ryan Church Exploded and Our Relief Corps IMPLODED, this game was all about S-I-M-O-N-T-A-C-C-H-I.
During Spring Training 2007, he was just one of the plethora of Free Agents looking for a 2nd, 3rd, 4th or even 5th Chance to make a Major League Team as a Pitcher. No team in the history of baseball had previously decided to have an "All Comers Meet" to decide their Starting Rotation. Yet, as alarming as that seemed at the time, you really can't say Our Washington Nationals ARE TERRIBLE!! Especially, when it comes to pitching. During the first week of April, we struggled mightily, and The Tryout Camp from Viera looked disasterous.
How do you feel now?
Despite four of the five supposed starters on the Disabled List, Washington has actually been decent of late on the mound. Our Bats have been mostly Cold, but Our Pitching has been Hot. Unfortunately, Our Manager, Manny Acta needs to depend FAR TOO OFTEN on his bullpen--which has been costly, at times--including tonight. But, as so many will not give him some due credit, General Manager Jim Bowden should actually be commended for stitching together a rotation, under the circumstances. Ownership told him--DO IT, FOR NOTHING.
And, Jason Simontacchi, yeah that guy with 11 letters in his last name, responded tonight, also. What can you say about a long lost veteran that was playing Overseas and in Independent Leagues keeping his hopes alive. Despite surgery, some serious loss of respect and an unwillingness for ANY MAJOR LEAGUE CLUB to give him a chance, he persisted. Pride that anyone in this great country can admire. Jason Simontacchi is not one to give up. He cared. He loves The GAME. Number 50 is a solid Major League Pitcher. And showed to every doubter tonight, he belongs, once again. Catcher Brian Schneider claims Simontacchi has the finest change up he has EVER SEEN!
It helped that My Main Man!!, Ryan Church, got it all started by powering out a Two Run Homer in the top of the first inning. His very first At-Bat since returning from his bruised wrist. A No Doubter in one of the most hitter friendly parks in The Major Leagues. And, you knew The Great American Park was a great place to hit when Schneiderman, Brian Schneider himself, BELTED OUT a Two Run shot off Kyle Lohse in the top of the fourth. By the 5th inning tonight, Our Washington Nationals had scored SEVEN RUNS. "The Guz" scoring that 7th run after a triple down the line in right and running home on a wild pitch.
And, when Ryan, TIMES TWO, HAMMERED out back to back Homers off Todd Coffey--Our Washington Nationals had a 9-1 lead in the 7th. Ryan Zimmerman belted out a 0-2 High Off Speed Pitch. And, My Main Man!! followed with an absolute CLUBBED SHOT DEEP TO RIGHT CENTER--AT LEAST Twenty Rows DEEP!!. That was a blast!! When Ryan Church hit his second homer tonight, The African Queen and I were eating dinner, in front of the television, watching the game. Just before the pitch, I said to her: "Just get the ball up in the strike zone and he will crush it." Not two seconds later, on the swing, I just raised my right arm in delight!! Fist Clenched, I had CALLED IT! That ball was crushed!! And, I couldn't be happier for Number 19. My Main Man!! had done it again. Knowing how excited I was, The African Queen yelled at me: "Don't choke on your dinner!!!"
Stupidly though, I thought this game was over. I had forgotten Our Washington Nationals were playing. First, Saul Rivera let Cincinnati back into the game giving up four runs, with an assist from Winston Abreu in the bottom of the 7th. But, Ryan Church gave Our Nats another comfortable lead with a three run two out double in the top of the 8th--all with two outs--slapping a gapper to left center (when My Main Man!! is hitting away, he's seeing the ball well, none more so than tonight) scoring the 10th , 11th & 12th runs of the evening. It looked like this game was FINALLY OVER.
But, it wasn't, to my great pain.
Big Jon Rauch didn't have it again. Struggling mightily, he couldn't find the plate (Manny, please rest him. Trust whomever else we got. Please.) And, The Reds teed off on him. With two Cincinnati Runs already in, two outs, Ryan Freel on first base, Ken Griffey, Jr on second--"The Wookie" survived by getting the very dangerous Adam Dunn to pop to Cristian Guzman over playing on the second base side to end the threat. If my heart was pumping more tonight, I didn't realize. Really, I thought we were going to blow it.
Fortunately, Jesus Colome (who also needs a break. He's been great, but you can't use him EVERY SINGLE GAME) trotted on for the 9th. Gave up a single, but was able to retire the side to end this never boring affair. Final Score 12-7. Nothing like watching a game in a BAND BOX. No lead ever safe. No deficit ever too much to overcome. That describes The Great American BallPark, in Cincinnati--not my favorite stadium.
Game Notes & Highlights:
Before Ryan Church took over this game, this affair was also about Jason Simontacchi. He battled through 5 2/3rds innings, giving up just one run, four hits and 3 walks. He was decent, before tiring in the 6th. Before, Saul Rivera got him out of a jam. The only Cincinnati run scored off Jason, a Leadoff homer in the bottom of the first by Ryan Freel. Simontacchi evening his record tonight at 2-2. Jason is a definite keeper.
In the bottom of the 7th, Ray King was called upon to retire Adam Dunn with two outs and the bases loaded. King walked Dunn and a run scored of a questionable call by Home Plate Umpire Lance Barksdale. Ray started bitching to Barksdale. Our Manager, Manny Acta was coming out to replace him, anyway. But, before Manny got there, Barksdale had tossed King. Ray then continuing to get in Lance's face. If you are going to get tossed, you might as well get your money's worth. TV Replays showed that Ray King had a legitimate beef.
For the second time in two nights, Our Washington Nationals unloaded on Old Friend, Mike Stanton. Stanton, whom MickNats always proclaimed that "NO NATS GAME IS OFFICIAL UNTIL MIKE STANTON WAS ANNOUNCED," was hit hard last night by Our Nats. And, Ryan Church UNLOADED ON HIM WITH HIS FINE SMACK INTO LEFT CENTER, scoring the three back breaking runs for Washington.
Despite the poor record, Our Washington Nationals ARE NOT A TERRIBLE TEAM. With a "Throw Anyone Out There" approach to starting pitching, they have survived. Its actually an interesting time. Can you image how much better Our Nats will be when John Patterson, Jason Bergmann, and definitely, Shawn Hill return to the starting lineup from injury. Hill may well be one of the emerging talents in the game. And, he's ours. Hopefully, for a LONG HEALTHY TIME (I've said it for one year. Shawn Hill is going to be good). Simontacchi, Chico, Patterson (The 2005 Version), Bergmann and Hill. Folks, anyway you look at it--that's respectable. That's Competitive . Which, is all we wanted for 2007.
Better starting pitching would rest our bullpen. Our Relief Corps is showing great strain right now. Manny Acta has been forced to depend on them far to often, far to early in ballgames. If our staring pitching can't go deep, our fortune so far, can not possibly last. Not only a fact, but the truth.
No really great defensive plays tonight. Too much PING PONG BASEBALL in a BAND BOX STADIUM. This one, not for the purist.
31,971 showed up tonight in Cincinnati, mostly to get a Bronson Arroyo Bobblehead. How many will be on eBay tomorrow morning?? I am guessing 100, easy. You got to love The American Way.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Al Behrman