Saturday, June 09, 2007
Beating The Best
With all his struggles as a starter, even I would have a problem giving Levale Speigner another start. Yet, I forgot for a moment, 2007 is all about opportunity, suffering at times, but learning, when it comes to Our Washington Nationals. Our Manager Manny Acta threw Number 36 out to the wolves again this evening, rolling the dice, hoping for the best--and Speigner responded with his finest game in The Major Leagues. Mixing up his pitches, fielding his position well, Levale Speigner beat his former team tonight, The Minnesota Twins and The GREAT JOHAN SANTANA.
Was Levale ever good, giving up just two hits, one walk and always pitching ahead in the count. Our 26 Year Old Rule V Draftee pitched with confidence tonight. Its amazing how well someone can look when they don't hand out free bases on balls. A well deserved 3-1 win giving Levale Speigner his second career win--his first as a starter before 39,742 Joe Mauer Bobblehead Figure Craving Twins fans in Minneapolis. Only The American League's Reigning MVP--Justin Morneau touched him with a solid home run in the bottom of the second inning for an early Minnesota 1-0 lead.
A short lived advantage that lasted until Ryan Zimmerman POUNDED OUT A TOWERING BLAST into the left field bleachers for a three run homer off Cy Young Award Winner Johan Santana in the top of the 3rd. This game is one of those excellent examples of how baseball shows no favorites. If you had the choice of taking Speigner or Santana, for one game--who would you pick? 99% would take Johan. So would I. As this game began, I said to The African Queen: "For us to win, everything must go our way tonight, no margin for error."
And, that's how it played out. Johan Santana threw one bad pitch--to Zimmerman and it cost him, dearly. Speigner made one bad pitch, and he survived, because NO ONE ELSE WAS ON BASE. The luck of draw. And, skill too--to only get beat when it hurts the least. This evening was Speigner's Night. He shined brightly under that teflon white roof and black trash bag right field wall of the truly ugly Minneapolis Metrodome. Only the former Seattle Mariners Park--The Now Imploded Kingdome, and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg (The Devil Rays home) are worse venues to play baseball, in my opinion. The Hubert H. Humphrey Dome (as its officially called) is a terrible baseball park. The Twins are an entertaining team. I can't wait until their new stadium is built in Hennepin County a few years from now. In an outdoor park, The Twins will once again be playing This GREAT GAME in a real Baseball Stadium. I can't wait. They are a solid franchise.
Until that time, I will enjoy Curly "W" number 26 and series Win over Minnesota. Good starting and relief pitching won, combined with one key hit to win tonight. A solid game. A win to be proud of in a tough environment. The noise level at The Humphrey Dome can be deafening at times. Tonight, Our Washington Nationals shut their fans up. And, beat arguably Baseball's FINEST PITCHER. Manny better be buying a round of drinks tonight. This win was hard earned.
Game Notes & Highlights:
If there is one thing Levale Speigner has consistently done well in his brief Major League Career, its fielding his position after throwing a pitch. Tonight, his cat like reflexes in the 5th retired Joe Mauer on a shot back to the box. Speigner leaped to his right, snared the hard hit grounder, backhanded, and tossed to Tony Batista (Tonight's Washington First Baseman) for the out.
That play, combined with The Twins Michael Cuddyer chasing down a Batista blooper in the right field corner in the fourth, turning and throwing out the not too fast Tony trying to stretch the hit into a double were The Defensive Plays of This Game.
"The Guz" continued to swing a hot bat against his former team. Three more hits tonight against Minnesota. 7 for 9 during this series. Cristian Guzman now batting a robust .352. Maybe "The New Guz" has arrived. Does Number 15 ever look confident at the plate. A far different player than we all experienced in 2005.
Ray King, Jesus Colome, Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero combined to throw 3 shutout innings. Although "The Chief" made it interesting in the bottom of the 9th when Cuddyer got him for a lead off single with two strikes. "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" was throwing strikes, staying ahead in the count, and he didn't panic. Number 32 quickly striking out Morneau and the equally dangerous Torii Hunter getting to the final out. But, when Lew Ford stroked an excuse me two out bloop single to right to keep the game alive, you had to start worrying and believing in the worst. A cheap hit by Ford, FLop seemed to give up on and did not dive and catch in an attempt to make the final out. I understand the Metrodome Astroturf is unforgiving. But Felipe, you must LAY OUT FOR THAT ONE. As I said the other day--the game was on the line. Give it up for the team.
Fortunately, Chad was confident, working hard. Cordero forced Jason Tyner to ground to Guzman who tossed to FLop at second to end the game. Career Save Number 99 for Our Number 32 was hard earned, well deserved. Playing in The Metrodome is dangerous to a Fly Ball Pitcher. "The Chief" though wasn't giving up any that The High Fly Stuff Tonight. He pitched well, and got himself out a serious jam, really not of his own doing.
Felipe Lopez, on the other hand, continues to struggle. Not sure what, if anything, is wrong with him mentally or physically. FLop just doesn't seem too interested right now in the game. His batting average at .236. Today, he was not wearing those flabulous white shoes from the other day at RFK Stadium. Almost lost out there, Our Number 2 needs to turn his season around. Felipe Lopez nowhere near the All Star Player he was two years ago in Cincinnati. His game is better suited for second base. Yet, he doesn't seem comfortable or confident anymore.
Finally, any night you can beat Johan Santana is a good night's work. For the past few seasons, Santana is one of those pitchers I will stop to watch while flipping through the games on DirecTV. Just a wonderful talent. One of the finest change ups in the game. Its hard to believe he was also A Rule V Draftee from The Houston Astros. Who exactly were the Houston Talent Scouts that determined Johan Santana was expendable? Pretty incredible actually.
A nice win for Our Ever Emerging Nationals. Remember, all this with only one of our expected starters not on The Disabled List. Hoping for a sweep tomorrow. Would that not be sweet, heading off to Baltimore to continue the local rivalry.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Tom Olmscheid