Thursday, May 31, 2007
The World Was Right Again
Not five mintues after Ryan Zimmerman hit his two run homer in the bottom of the first inning-Colleen was standing directly in front of Section 320, on the walkway--pointing at us--saying: "You just can't let this happen again. Now we know the truth!!" Then, when Our Washington Nationals pulled ahead 3-1 on a Austin Kearns sacrifice fly scoring "Z"--MickNats turned in his seat toward us claiming--"Yeah, there may be something to this talk!! It was you!" And, when the floodgates opened in the fifth on the EVER HOT SWINGING BAT of Dimitri Young and a key two run scoring single by Brian Schneider building a 6-1 lead--Iris & Biff said, "You see, what's happening right now--there is no doubt." Finally, Gloria--Our Favorite CSC Supervisor stopped by our seats in Section 320 telling me: "Sit down, I am not here to congratulate you, I need to thank your wife. No way she misses anymore games. Sohna is the Good Luck Charm!!" All these friends, along with about 15 others all believed the world was not whole for the first two games of this Home Stand against The Los Angeles Dodgers.
This past Tuesday and Wednesday Night, The African Queen had missed those games. And, did Our Washington Nationals lose bad. Shutout twice, never close to winning either game. Not a single person we have come to know at RFK STADIUM, friends, other fans and Stadium Employees alike were not SHOCKED to Not See Sohna sitting in her customary seat. Missing one game, sure, but two in row? No Way. Bad Karma had been spread all over the old ball yard. Many believing, with business calling her away, Sohna's vacant seat the source of some serious black magic. Even Screech was relieved to see His "Girlfriend" back in the fold.
But, with The African Queen, fortunately, back in attendance tonight--The World Was Right Again. And, Our Washington Nationals walked all over The Los Angeles Dodgers, regaining some lost respect, putting an end to the jinx. A game in which they never trailed. A game they continually put some pressure on Dodgers Pitching. A game they ran away with in the bottom of the 8th with a decisive 5 run rally sending Los Angeles out of The Nation's Capital on the heels of an 11-4 pasting by Our Washington Nationals.
Did Curly "W" Number 22 ever feel good!!! Even the Celebratory Fireworks when "The Chief" Chad Cordero recorded the final out on a grounder to Robert Fick--seemed more special than before. The Hex had been lifted. Our Heads had been cleared. The African Queen supplying the rejuvenating power. All on a night Washington was rattling the ball all over RFK STADIUM. 14 hits in total. Dimitri Young continued to wield a SCORCHING BAT, raising his batting average above .300 with a 4 for 4 night. Ryan Zimmerman, having blasted Mark Hendrickson's 0-1 pitch in the bottom of the 1st with "The Guz" on board with a double for his two run homer--also scored that third run after walking--and Number 11 put the game out of reach in the bottom of the 8th with a 2 run Ryan "patented" drive to right center for a two run scoring double. Which was immediately followed by an Austin Kearns RBI Single and My Main Man!! Ryan Church CLUBBING a LINER over the right centerfield wall for the 10th and 11th runs of the ballgame for Our Nats.
Yeah, this game had its tense moments, our bullpen struggled during the middle portion of the game. Saul Rivera and Jesus Colome (EVERYDAY PITCHERS LIKE YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE) were not sharp. Rivera allowing two inherited runners to score that were charged to tonight's starter Micah Bowie. And, Colome (arguably our Best Pitcher all season long) struggled after getting Rivera out of his 6th inning jam. Jesus was not sharp--but managed to hold the lead while allowing one run to score in the 7th on a Wilson Betemit Double, Andre Eithier Single and Tony Abreu Sacrifice Fly. With score now 6-4 heading to the bottom of the 7th, you had to fear a possible collapse. Our Nationals had held the lead since early in this one, but their bullpen was overused during the first two blowouts of this three game set. With two more At-Bats scheduled for Los Angeles, this one was far from over. Fortunately, Our Nationals Fabulous 8th inning put this one away. Every Nats fan in the announced crowd of 20,982 could relax and, as far as everyone in Section 320 and Our Many Friends around RFK Stadium were concerned--The African Queen was back, The Whammy Quashed. Our Washington Nationals were back on the right track.
The World Was Right Again!! Let's Hope Sohna can keep those bats hot over this coming weekend against The San Diego Padres.
Game Notes & Highlights:
What more can you say about Dimtri Young's Hitting. Since returning from his Achilles Heel injury, he has been on fire. Batting .237 before the injury--"The Big Dog" has raised his average to .309, has 24 RBI and, as Andy said tonight in Section 320--"He's making a great statement to get himself traded!!!" Of course, we also joked ( and its all in fun) that Dimitri's Batting Average rivals his fielding percentage. That comment received quite a few chuckles this evening.
Ryan Zimmerman's Two Run Homer and Two Run Double were vintage Ryan (If a second year player can be considered vintage). His socked homer was turned on in the first inning and bounced off the green wall above The Dodgers Bullpen. His double was stroked the other way--opposite field power for Zimmerman his strong point. Both hits tonight, exactly the quality strokes we all witnessed from him in 2006. Hopefully, we are welcoming back an old friend into a groove. And, it helped that Nats batters in front of him, were getting on base. Something Zimmerman has seen far less of in 2007.
"The Guz"--Cristian Guzman had a fabulous game at the plate--three hits, including a nice double down the left field line off Hendrickson in the first, setting up "Z's" Homer. Number 15 scored three runs tonight, the last hustling all the way from first base on Zimmerman's two run double to the gap in right. Was Guzman EVER FLYING. That man can cut corners and run the bases better than ANY WASHINGTON NATIONALS PLAYER we have EVER SEEN. Although he scored easily on one of his usual slides to the right side of home plate--slapping the the plate with his left hand-trying to avoid the late throw--Home Plate Umpire Jerry Crawford NEVER GAVE THE SAFE CALL. It appeared to me that Guzman MISSED THE PLATE--his hand bouncing over it. Crawford looked directly at "THE GUZ" never taking his eyes off of him as he trotted back to the Nats Dugout--with the crowd on its feet roaring its approval. Fortunately, The Dodgers did not dispute the call.
After Zimmerman's game breaking double in the 8th, followed by an Austin Kearns RBI single, I said to Sohna--"Watch, My Main Man!! is the Designated Meaningless Home Run Hitter of the evening--you watch--he's going to get a groove pitch." Sure enough--not 5 seconds later, Ryan Church JACKED Rudy Seanez's third pitch over the right field wall!! The African Queen just stared at me in disbelief!! Was I ever happy---not only for My Main Man!!, but for my Called Shot!! That was fun!!
Ryan Church had OFFICIALLY ENDED THIS GAME!! Number 19 has some decent power numbers--6 Homers, 17 Doubles, 27 RBI's at the 1/3 mark of the season. Projected out to 18 Homers, 51 Doubles and 81 RBI in 2007-- for a streaky hitter getting the very first opportunity of his Major League Career to prove himself--not bad. Not bad at all. In fact, Zimmerman, Young and Church are all on pace to knock in 80 runs--this after that terrible early April by just about everyone in our lineup. Kearns could reach that mark--if he heats up. Brian Schneider may well knock in 70 runs this season-which would be a career high.
How in the world does Micah Bowie get through 5.1 innings against a good hitting team like The Dodgers. I write that line in respect to the fact that, FOR YEARS, Micah Bowie was an afterthought to just about each and every organization he had ever played for. Talented, sure--and a lefthanded thrower, which always helps. But, what is it at the age of 32 that has brought it all together for him? Micah Bowie was called up last summer due to injury of other pitchers for Our Washington Nationals. Now, less than one year later--he's a mainstay-and someone Our Manager Manny Acta can depend on. Just another reason to claim that Our Pitching Coach--Randy St.Claire must be pretty darn good.
Bowie doesn't throw hard, but he has enough speed change in his pitches to keep hitters off balance. Sure, he gave up a TOWERING BLAST to The Dodgers Russell Martin in the top of the 2nd to DEAD CENTERFIELD. A shot that bounced off the Green Wall just to the right of a security camera. But, that homer didn't seem to phase him. Bowie just kept on laboring away. Once our starters on the Disabled List return, Micah will return to his valuable role as a situational lefty in the bullpen. Number 59 is a really good story. A tale of a journeyman baseball player that doesn't give up--living for the dream--always positive-hoping for the best. You have to appreciate someone like Micah Bowie. Being postive, never getting down on yourself, sounds like something Our Manager Manny Acta has preached from the beginning of Spring Training. Obviously, Micah Bowie believes in Our Manager's teachings.
It was nice to see Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero back out on the mound---firing away. Rauch gave up a two out double to Luis Gonzalez in the 8th and "The Chief" walked Brady Clark to open the 9th--neither scored--but it was pleasing to see our set up man and closer shut the door as a tandem--even in a blowout. They not only needed some work--both are still looking to regain some confidence.
In the top of the 4th with two outs--The Dodgers Jeff Kent tapped a bouncing slow chopper in the infield toward third base--Ryan Zimmerman charged in hard--scooped up the ball in his glove and in ONE MOTION--exchanged the ball from his glove hand to his throwing hand, while still running forward, almost toward home plate-- then underarming a GORGEOUS, off balance toss to Dimitri Young at first to retire Kent. Completing, unquestionably, The Defensive Play of This Game.
NO ONE IN THE GAME DOES THIS PLAY BETTER THAN RYAN ZIMMERMAN!! For two seasons I have watched Ryan make this play, time and time again. I NEVER GET TIRED OF SEEING HIS EXECUTION OF THIS DIFFICULT PLAY. His artistry a great joy to watch. Cal Ripken, Jr, Mike Schmidt & Brooks Robinson--the only other players of my lifetime that could consistently make the same play. All three--Hall of Famers. I LOVE WATCHING RYAN ZIMMERMAN MAKE THAT MOVE.
There were two very funny moments in Section 320 tonight.
The FlyBoys from Andrews had given their seats to a couple young guys in their early 20's. Both were obvious HUGE NATIONALS fans. One guy small--the other Large--One BIG DUDE!! For room, they both decided to sit in the front row of Section 320--instead of just to the left of The African Queen and I. The Big Guy was Bellowing Cheers ALL NIGHT LONG. Even with the game out of reach --this guy was reacting to each and every play as if the game was still on the line. You had to appreciate it. We all enjoyed his company tremendously. During the 7th inning stretch--his fandom reached new heights when he SHOUTED OUT "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" so loud it drowned out the crowd along the third base side. We all looked in AMAZEMENT. This guy was UNBELIEVABLE!! This fan's enthusiasm so great--it had all of us chuckling throughout the evening. Regular Section 320 Member Richard turned to me after the 7th inning stretch to say: "We better not hook him up with RallyTimeRichard (who was not in attendance tonight) or we may all be in some serious trouble!!" All of us laughing. It was true. Having personally seen what RallyTime had done to The African Queen to make her one of the loudest members of Section 320--the thought of this Big Guy with RallyTimeRichard--just frightening (RallyTime, you have NO IDEA what you missed!).
Finally--in the top of the 8th inning, I was standing in the tunnel just to the left of Section 320 chatting with Charles--The Usher Supervisor in our area. My Best Friend Screech!!! was walking up from the 3rd base Dugout. Some NatPack Members were also standing in the tunnel. As Screech stopped at the walkway of the lower bowl--The NatPack Guys all shouted out SCREEEEECH!!!--as we always do whenever Screech is near Section 320. One by One each of the three NatPacker's gave Screech a Strong High Five! When My Best Friend saw me--he turned to give me a Hard High Five. I raised my hand, stroked forward and DELIBERATELY MISSED!!! EVERYONE JUST HOWLING IN LAUGHTER. Screech, looking stunned, dismayed and downright pissed at me--turned away with his arms crossed while the chuckles continued. So, I apologized to Screech and stuck out my right hand for him to shake. Which he promptly did also--then, at the very last moment, pulled his hand back--and wiped the back of this hair. Turnabout was FAIR PLAY!! Everyone enjoying the fun. Screech and I then embraced to call a truce. Supervisor Charles said this moment was By FAR, the highlight of the evening.
The Highlight, at least until Screech joined with MickNats--both demonstrating their prowess at The Bobblebelly Dance. Downright Hilarious. MickNats performing a wonderful rendition of Screech Dancing from his seat. It was so good--Screech has invited MickNats down to the perform for everyone on top the Nats 3rd Base Dugout. It was FLATOUT FUNNY!! Everyone loved it!!
Tonight's InGame Photo--(Getty Images) Greg Fiume