Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The Human Rain Delay was on the mound for Our Washington Nationals. Tonight's Game was on the line and Our Number 43 looked mighty uncomfortable. Jesus Colome had inherited a No Outs Bases Loaded Situation courtesy of Saul Rivera and promptly gave up a Brandon Inge tie breaking single to right, scoring Magglio Ordonez giving The Detroit Tigers a 4-3 lead.
Then, the fun really began. With the bases still loaded and nobody out, Colome returned to his pitching form well remembered from an earlier time in his career. His Journeyman Career. He was unsure. Unsure How to pitch Omar Infante. Unsure what to throw. Unsure how to get out of this jam. After arguably being Our Best Pitcher through 71 games this season, Game Number 72 saw Jesus Colome unsure how to retire The Tigers Back Up Second Baseman.
What was to come was unquestionably The At-Bat Of The Year, both in terms of pitches thrown--pitches fouled off--walks around the mound, along with fidgeting on the mound, and some great gamesmanship by Infante. Colome would throw his first two tosses to Infante outside the strike zone for ball two. Then, Omar would foul off three consecutive pitches. After each and every foul--Colome would take a ball from either Catcher Brian Schneider or Home Plate Umpire Mike Everitt and proceed to walk around the mound--slowly walk up to the rubber--looked in for the sign--maybe take his foot off the rubber again--then repeat the process--Finally Throwing The Pitch. It got so annoying that Omar began to also call for time, slowly step away from the Batters Box and then get back in--allowing Jesus Colome to repeat his antics all over again. Finally, Our Number 43 threw pitch number 7 of this lengthy At-Bat in the dirt to load up the count at 3-2. And, what did Colome Do? He walked off the mound, fidgeted, talked to Schneider, walked up to the rubber--looked in for the sign--and saw Omar Infante CALL TIME!!
Repeat Process. You had to laugh. All of us in Section 320 couldn't believe what we were seeing. An At-Bat reaching the 5 minute mark in what would become a 30 minute half inning. Eventually, Colome & Infante would get around to playing This Great Game again--with the same result for pitches number 8, 9, 10 & 11. That's right--All foul balls.
As I have said before, the farther and deeper a hitter goes into the pitch count--The Batter has a huge advantage. The Hitter, in this case, Omar Infante, knew this. "Omar's going to rap a game breaking single--its just a matter of time," I said to The African Queen. Sure enough--after all the strolls around the mound, the fidgeting, the uncertainty, the gamesmanship and time outs--Colome reverted to the Jesus of old and JUST FIRED IN A FASTBALL as hard as he could humanly toss it--just like the old days--when he struggled with control and his command. Omar Infante, like many Major League Hitters before him facing Colome, just went with the pitch--stroking the baseball to right, scoring Carlos Guillen for The Tigers 5th run of the evening.
Omar had won the battle of wits. Jesus had lost the war of uncertainty. Colome would never recover. By the time this terrible top of the sixth inning ended--Jesus had allowed all three inherited runners by Saul Rivera to score and two additional more of his own doing. A one time 3-3 Ballgame was now well distanced by Detroit. An 8-3 advantage that Our Washington Nationals couldn't recover from tonight.
The 8-4 final score giving The Hard Hitting Detroit Tigers a three game sweep of Our Washington Nationals tonight. All on heels of Our Most Reliable Reliever this season, losing control, looking unsure--all the while delaying this ballgame to a depth hardly seen before. Was he ever slow and timid. Everybody has a bad night--but, hopefully tomorrow, Our Pitching Coach Randy St.Claire will sit down with Jesus Colome and get him straightened out. Colome looked no where near the quality performer he had been through the first 11 weeks of the 2007 Season.
Can Those Tigers EVER HIT!! If their relief pitching was slightly better--they would easily be A Top Team, along with The Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox. What a performance at the plate by Detroit over the past three days. I can only dream about racking up runs like that by Our Washington Nationals on such a consistent basis. Maybe, one day soon, that dream will come true.
Game Notes & Highlights:
Saul Rivera got the loss tonight by entering in the 6th of a tie ballgame and setting a fire--proceeding to not retire a single batter. Magglio Ordonez walk. Carlos Guillen single to right and Mike Rabelo walk. Our Manager Manny Acta had seen enough already from Saul. And, brought in Colome. A decision tonight that just fueled that fire and turned this close ballgame into an absolute disaster.
Speaking of disasters--there is No Doubt that Cristian Guzman has been a revelation at times in 2007. Currently hitting .327 with some key hits and terrific runs around the bases. But, tonight, "The Guz" reminded me of The Number 15 of 2005 with two mental mistakes that come from just not having your head in the game. In the top of the 5th--Tigers Starter Jeremy Bonderman hit a routine lazy moving grounder to "The Guz'' at shortstop. Guzman took a lazy tract to the baseball, nonchalanting a one hand glove scoop that rolled over his hand for a silly error. Eventually, this blooper wasn't costly, although Bonderman would reach third base with two outs. But, there is no excuse for laziness.
A laxness that Cristian again showed in the DECISIVE 6th inning. With Curtis Granderson on first and Omar Infante on third after his "At-Bat Of The Year"--Detroit's Craig Monroe would hard chop a Colome Pitch to Ryan Zimmmerman's left, in the hole. "Z" made a nice play ranging over, but with one out--only could toss to Dimitri Young to retire Monroe. Infante scored the 5th run of the inning. But, Granderson rounded second on Zimmerman's toss to first realizing that "The Guz" did not over play behind Ryan to cover third base. Dimitri Young had no one to throw to at 3rd for the out--because Guzman was watching and not participating. Sure--Granderson eventually didn't score as, thankfully, Marcus Thames would ground out to Zimmerman for the final out, on a fine charging in underarm toss scoop throw by Ryan--But the point had been made. Cristian Guzman was asleep and not paying attention to the entire situation at hand.
And, since I am on the subject of tentative play. Also in that top of the 6th--Magglio Ordonez had walked to lead off. Carlos Guillen was next. Guillen is a fine hitter, that can hit the baseball to all fields--with some power (in fact--he knocked a two run shot to left that bounced off the very top of the wall for a homer in the 4th). This time, Detroit had the Hit & Run on. With Carlos batting lefthanded--why DID Felipe Lopez move to cover 2nd base on the steal by Ordonez? Carlos is batting lefthanded. Was Rivera supposed to send the pitch to the outside corner and miss badly? As FLop ran to second--Carlos Guillen, being the professional hitter he is--promptly sent a routine ground ball, right to where Lopez was previously placed for a clean single to right. This Hit & Run the Harbinger of bad things to come for Washington that inning. So Manny--Why was "The Guz" not covering second on that steal? Just Curious. Was that ever costly.
As is always the case in each and every baseball game--Our Washington Nationals had their one shot late--to turn the game around. A Two Out Rally loaded the bases after Zimmerman singled earlier and Ryan Church was Hit-By-Pitch and Schneider walked. Unfortunately--the newly re-arrived Brandon Watson was the scheduled hitter. A slap hitter with no power who was hitless tonight--there was NO WAY Our Manager Manny Acta lets "00" hit for himself. The Good Choice was Ronnie Belliard. But this evening--Belliard was not successful--flying out to left to kill the rally and really--Our Final Opportunity to pull back into this one.
For a Wednesday Night, there was good sized crowd at The Old Ballyard Tonight. 26,637 were on hand. Many into this one, it helps with School no longer in session. Although, Sohna and I continue to be impressed with the large contingent of Detroit Tigers Fans at all three games this week at RFK STADIUM. Really, Detroit had a good turnout of fans. Being an Original American League Team now 107 years in the making--I guess I shouldn't be too surprised--especially with The Tigers coming off Winning The American League Pennant and participating in The World Series in 2006.
The Three Roster Moves made today by Our General Manager Jim Bowden, I found very interesting. Brandon Watson being recalled due to Robert Fick going on the Bereavement List is a sign that Watson is not even in the short term plans. When Watson surprisingly made The Starting Lineup over My Main Man!! Ryan Church in 2006, I was personally shocked. Brandon is nowhere near the player that Church is. Watson was terrible for us and was eventually sent down, released and passed around to a few other teams, whereupon he eventually resurfaced in Washington Today after a record breaking 43 game hitting streak playing AAA Ball. How odd it was to see Watson in Center and Church in left tonight. Where's Frank Robinson when you need him, maybe Livan's coming back next? Brandon Watson has no arm, limited defensive skills and can hit singles--that's about it. Just another version of Nook Logan in a varying degree. Once Fick returns in 3 to 7 days, as the rules stipulate--someone on the 25 man roster must go. If its Watson, he must be sent through waivers to return to AAA Columbus. After going 0-3 tonight and showing no spark--it sure seems to me that "00's" time is limited to less than 5 more days. And, then he's gone.
I wasn't surprised about Winston Abreu being Designated for Assignment--He's 30 and after a good start--fell apart. He's not in the long term plans. There is no need to keep him. And, as much as I like Levale Speigner--The Rule V Draftee--was out of his depth in the Starting Rotation. A position he was forced into due to injury. Our Number 36 had some talent--just not well developed enough to be anything but a sacrificial lamb. That's too bad--It will be interesting to see if he clears waivers or The Twins buy him back from Washington.
Luis Ayala's return to The 25 Man Roster is THRILLING for me. Just love the man and missed him dearly over the past season and one half. In 2005--Majewski to Ayala to Cordero was a DOMINANT Trifecta was Our Washington Nationals. I am not expecting Our Number 56 to be thrown back into a tough situation straight off the bat, but I am happy to see his return. And besides, during Our Spring Training Adventure in Viera, Florida this past February--Luis Ayala was nothing short of WONDERFULLY kind to both The African Queen and I. We really like him.
Chris Schroeder--also recalled today--can hum the ball--strike out the side in order--but still get hammered at the same time. That was his M.O. in 2006--lets see if he has turned anything around for 2007
Finally, In the middle of the 3rd inning--The African Queen and I were having a conversation with some of Our Friends in Section 320 over the Relocation Process at New Nationals Park when Clint and The NatPack came over to surprise us with one of their RFK--Random Acts of Kindness. Sohna and I were presented with Gift Certificates to "RED, HOT & BLUE Barbecue Restaurants" We were thrilled. And, Mary (Mrs.MickNats) was quick on the draw and took this picture of us being presented with the prizes. Honestly, we had NO IDEA this was going to happen. We couldn't thank Clint and The NatPack Enough.
Tonight's InGame Photo--(AP) Nick Wass