Sunday, May 27, 2007
Singing In The Rain
Maybe Our Washington Nationals should play through more rain storms. Last night, down HUGE in the top of the ninth at Busch Stadium, they mounted a comeback, scoring twice with two outs, had runners on first and second and the go ahead run at the plate during an absolute deluge--then came a rain delay. Once The Umpires stopped play, picking it up 1 hour and 43 minutes later--Jesus Flores popped out in foul territory to end the game, 8-6 Cardinals last Saturday Night.
Turn the calendar to Sunday--And Today, in the top of the 5th in a zero-zero game--Felipe Lopez stroked a first pitch single to left off Adam Wainwright with two outs, as rain began to fall again. As the downpours continued, Ronnie Belliard stepped up and JACKED OUT Wainwrights second offering to left center for a 2-0 Nationals Lead. Just a few moments later, The Umpires called a rain delay.
Then, once the game resumed under very threatening clouds and mist--Our Washington Nationals exploded again, this time in the top of the 8th. Belliard singled and Ryan Zimmerman walked off Russ Springer. And, when Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa called for lefthander Randy Flores--all HELL BROKE LOOSE! Flores would walk My Main Man!! to load the bases. Nook Logan was next, still NO OUTS. Batting righthanded--his stronger side--Logan would strike out, but the baseball got past St. Louis Catcher Yadier Molina. Reading the play instantly, Ronnie Belliard rushed home to score the third run of the game for Washington. After Robert Fick grounded out to second for out number two, the runners holding--the other Flores in this game, Our Jesus, would walk to load the base again.
Setting Up, THE MOMENT OF THIS GAME!
Ryan Langerhans was next. Number 4 only in this game because Dimitri Young left with a back injury. With Austin Kearns given an day off, Ryan was put in there. And, as happens so often in baseball, when you least expect it--something great happens to a player entering for another due to injury. A lefthanded hitter, facing a lefthanded pitcher now.
Under the circumstances. any Nats Fans could only wish for a run scoring single. Never would you expect anything more. Langerhans worked a 2-2 count, then, inexplicably--Randy Flores threw the next pitch RIGHT OVER THE PLATE--Ryan Langerhans CRUSHED IT--to deep centerfield. Maybe one of HARDEST HIT BASEBALLS of his lifetime (I am just guessing here, but he SMOKED IT!!) The baseball landing over the centerfield fence on the sloped lawn of Busch Stadium. A GRAND SLAM--GAME DECIDING HOMER from someone you would least expect. Just a Fine Moment-for Langerhans, Our Washington Nationals and ANY FAN watching on television! Just like that, a close game was now near a blowout. At 7-1, it was time to start counting the outs. Just six more to return home to Washington, DC on the heels of a terrific 5-2 Roadtrip to Cincinnati and St.Louis--towns Our Washington Nationals had not done well in over the course of the previous two seasons.
Curly "W" number 21 featured some fine pitching by Our Hometown Team. Matt Chico pitched 4 innings of shutout ball before the rain started. There were some Clutch Hits, good At-Bats, in that rain--and a feeling that Our Washington Nationals are discovering themselves, in a good way. Finding out, just what they are capable of doing. You ask ANYBODY whether they believed Our Nats would win 5 games on this, just completed, terrific roadtrip--and not a sole would have said "YES!". Today's 7-2 win was a joy to watch. I actually had a confident feeling, even before Langerhan's Grand Slam, they were going to pull it out. For the very first time this season, Our Washington Nationals are earning respect.
As I type this, its beginning to rain here in Alexandria. The Thunder Boomers Loud in the Gray Sky. Bookending-- A Perfect Ending to a victorious Series Win in RAINY St.Louis this weekend. I can't wait for The Dodgers this coming Tuesday Night at RFK STADIUM.
Maybe, we shall get lucky again--and it will rain some more.
Because, Our Washington Nationals have left me "SINGING IN THE RAIN".
Game Notes & Highlights:
In his 4 shutout innings, Matt Chico gave up just three hits, no walks--and was never really threatened. 42 of his 68 pitches were thrown for strikes. Randy St.Claire must really be a decent pitching coach, to continue to get SO MUCH out his guys on the mound. Chico is becoming far more reliable--dependable.
I have to give Adam Wainwright of St. Louis a ton of credit for returning to the mound after the long rain delay this afternoon. In this day of coddling pitchers and rarely letting anyone go more than 7 innings, it was refreshing to see this good young talented kid take the ball, warm up and head back out there, when the game restarted. Its a little off subject, but I recall fondly growing up in the 1960's when pitchers like Juan Marichal, Don Drysdale, Gaylord Perry, and especially Bob Gibson wanted to go the distance each and every game. They were downright STEAMED to be taken out of any game. And, Marichal would pitch batting practice the very next day after a start. Even My Washington Senators pitchers of that time--Dick Bosman and Casey Cox--nearly always went deep in a game. Managers allowed their starters to work themselves out of jams. They learned and knew how to pitch during that time. Something that's not allowed to happen today. I miss those days. It just seemed like players wanted it more then--especially when it comes to starting pitching (Yeah, I know, some of you might be saying to yourself, just another old fogey story--but you know--its true).
Our Washington Nationals have hit 4 Grand Slams so far this 2007 season. Ryan's have three of them. Langerhans, Zimmerman and Church. FLop has the fourth. What's the chances of Ryan Wagner hitting one? By the way, Austin Kearns' middle name is--you guessed it--RYAN!!
Dimitri Young had to me rolling over laughing at his misplay at first base in the bottom of the fourth. The Cardinals Scott Rolen grounded a hard bouncer down the third baseline. Ryan Zimmerman made a nice over his head, backhand grab of the ball in foul territory but behind the bag. Ryan set himself and tossed a good, but not great throw a little off the bag toward right field. Dimitri Young STRETCHED, not only with the wrong foot, his left instead of right, but toward RIGHT FIELD, away from the ball--not toward the ball coming across the infield. His bad footwork allowed Rolen to just beat the throw, and ended with a collision between Dimitri & Scott. Rolen flipping right over Young after running into his rear end. Rolen was not hurt. Although, Dimitri Young did not return after the rain delay, apparently injuring his back on this play. For his pain, I am sorry--never do I want to see any player get injured. For the defensive move he made--I can only laugh. It was flat out funny.
After Young's mistake--Please Nick Johnson, get well soon!! I don't know how much longer I can take our defensive play at first base.
Ray Knight handling the color commentary on MASN 2 this afternoon impressed me by going right after Nationals Players who he felt were not playing to the best of their abilities. In the bottom of the second, Yadier Molina would pop a foul ball down the right field line. FLop had the angle and if he continued to run hard, could have made the play. Instead Felipe gave way to Dimitri Young running hard, looking up over his head--the ball glancing off his glove--no play, no out recorded-although there should have been. Knight did not back down--claiming that was FLop's play all the way--no way Lopez should have stopped running. Ray Knight was correct. I was glad he stated that fact.
Then, when Dimitri made his poor footwork decision on the collision at first with Scott Rolen--Ray Knight walked all over him. "You just don't stretch away from the ball, on the wrong foot," Knight exclaimed. "Those few extra feet gave Scott Rolen the base. He should know better than that!!" It was so true. I was happy Ray Knight said that statement, too. I can appreciate announcers that don't cover up the truth. Hopefully, both FLop and Young will get the message.
Ronnie Belliard had a fine game--knocking four hits, including his two run homer--raising his average to .276. Even as a fill-in for Cristian Guzman--he played shortstop again well. And, although they did not turn any double plays today, that was not the fault of Belliard. Twice, he handled throws from FLop pivoting beautifully, but just missing the runners at first. He pivots really well. Its the most impressive skill about his game, to me.
Saul Rivera got the win today for pitching two innings of one run ball after the game resumed in the 5th inning. Too bad that Chico did not get the win. He was deserving, but official rules will not allow it.
Chad Cordero pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning today. Believe it or not--his ERA is now down to 3.09. "The Chief" is hopefully coming around. His help is needed, for Washington to continue their winning ways.
I love seeing that "SEA OF RED" at each and every Cardinals Game in St.Louis. They must have MORE FANS than most any team in Baseball wearing The Home Team's Merchandise, in this case "CARDINALS". Its quite impressive. St. Louis is just a terrific baseball town. Hopefully, one day--many will say and think the same nice things about Our Washington Nationals and The Nation's Capital. By the way, if there is a more beautiful Home Uniform for style and grace--its The Cardinals' Home Whites. Just a terrific jersey. Although, I prefer their Red "STL" Caps than their Sunday Blue/Red Brim Cap with Bat & Cardinal on the front. Classic and stylish in every way that jersey. Just a GREAT, GREAT HOME UNIFORM. A Keeper for ALL TIME!!
During the Rain Delay, I continued to switch back and forth among all the other games this afternoon on my DirecTV MLB Extra Innings Package. I enjoy being able to watch virtually any game going on every day. For 10 years I have purchased this package. Its well worth it--for the baseball nut I am. And, today, it allowed me to listen in on Cincinnati Reds TV Announcer George Grande get into the Grievance Situation with Gary Majewski and Our Washington Nationals. In a high scoring affair--"TEX" was called on to settle down The Pittsburgh Pirates in the 8th inning. He didn't do well--giving up three hits and two runs (his ERA now 10.80)--allowing The Pirates to increase their lead in an eventual 14-10 win. Majewski was BOOED LOUDLY upon being taken out.
During the course of his bad inning, George Grande went into great detail concerning Red's General Manager Wayne Krivsky's complaint. The gist of it came down to the fact of George stating that WAYNE BELIEVES Our Washington Nationals DID NOT TELL The Reds that Gary Majewski had just recently taken a cortisone shot, before the trade. THAT'S IT--Their ENTIRE CASE. Grande went on to say that Cincinnati's claim was a longshot and that only monetary compensation would probably be awarded, if anything. "I don't know of any other such claim that had merit, has been redone by Major League Baseball." Obviously, even Grande thinks Krivsky is dreaming.
I seem to recall, others can, I am sure clarify--that EVERYONE IN DC KNEW GARY MAJEWSKI received a cortisone shot before the trade. The Reds Team Doctor, then, a consultant with Washington, knew of this. Just more proof that Wayne Krivsky is trying to hide from a bad trade that soured on him and his relationship with The Cincinnati Fan Base.
By the way--for those who may not know. George Grande is THE VERY FIRST PERSON EVER to be seen on ESPN. When that now Worldwide Sports Network went on the air in 1980, George Grande hosted THE VERY FIRST SHOW--CALLED SPORTCENTER. SportCenter a show with a life all its own now--known throughout the USA, and many countries throughout this world. I have always liked George Grande.
Today's InGame Photos--(AP) Tom Gannam