Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Courtesy of Baltimore's Daniel Cabrera--"The Two Out Rally"--tonight became Groundhog Day at Camden Yards. Cabrera, an extremely talented hard throwing Dominican can bring the ball. So hard, at times, he can not control his pitches. Throughout his young career, Daniel has never been consistent. And, this evening against Our Washington Nationals, Number 35 for The Orioles cost his team badly--all with two outs in three consecutive innings. Really, it was like watching The Famous Movie: Groundhog Day. Did Cabrera ever lose control. Did Our Washington Nationals ever take advantage.
But, when Our Manager had to call on "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" to shut down a potential game winning rally by Baltimore in bottom of the 9th--I had that awful feeling that Groundhog Day would come back to haunt Our Washington Nationals and every one of their fans watching in person and at home in front of their televisions. This game came down to the wire--unnecessarily and unexpectantly so. No Baseball Game involving Our Washington Nationals is ever truly over, until that last final out is recorded in the history books.
With Baltimore leading 3-1 on the heels of a fine opposite field three run shot by Melvin Mora off Micah Bowie--Daniel began to lose it in the top of the third. Two were out, and Felipe Lopez (in a 0-18 slump) was at the plate. If you are facing a struggling hitter with two outs--why try to get fancy? Yet Cabrera did and walked FLop. Regreting the move and realizing his mistake, Daniel decided now to overpower Washington's Next Hitter, Ryan Zimmerman. An even BIGGER MISTAKE. A fastball right down the middle was LAUNCHED by Our Number 11 into the left centerfield bleachers. Zimmerman's Swing, A Beauty. He got all of that pitch. A no doubter--this homer, his tenth of the season, caught by a Nationals Fan wearing a white Nats Tee and Blue Curly "W" Cap to tie up the ballgame 3-3.
Then in the very next inning, it was "Deja Vu" all over again. Two were out in the top of the 4th, when tonight's Nats Centerfielder Ryan Langerhans stroked a Cabrera pitch right off Daniel's right rear thigh for a single. With "The Guz" now at the plate--Langerhans stole second base, putting himself in scoring position. Which really didn't matter when Cristian Guzman also walked to put runners on first and second, still two outs.
The ever struggling Felipe Lopez was next for Washington, batting lefthanded. As a Nats Fan, you had to hope he's due--well overdue. Cabrera obviously not comfortable, just looking to end the threat, as quickly as possible. Yet, all Daniel did was fuel the fire. An outside fastball was taken to left field, looped down the line by FLop (maybe Felipe finally realzing he just needs to relax at the plate, no need to overswing)--No Way Langerhans and Guzman do not score on this hit. "The Guz" sliding safely to the outside of home plate with his patented slap tag of the plate--beating the relay throw easily. Lopez ending up on third with a stand up two run double, advancing on the throw home. For the second straight inning, Cabrera had lost it late, putting his Orioles now behind 5-3. Many Nationals Fans on hand at Oriole Park cheering on their team. To those fans credit--they were mighty loud.
A vociferous throng those Nats Faithful became, when again, with two outs in the top of the 5th--Our Washington Nationals continued their two out assault on Daniel Cabrera. This time, sending him to the showers for the evening. My Main Man!! Ryan Church walked on four straight pitches. Cabrera for the third straight inning unable to close out the side. And, Brian Schneider made him pay for it, when on the very next pitch of the game--Schneiderman HAMMERED Daniel's final pitch of this game into the Flag Pole Standing Area over the Right Field Out of Town Scoreboard near Eutaw Street. This game distancing two run homer--closed out the scoring for the night for Washington, and finished the very inconsistent Cabrera. With the score now 7-3, it was only a matter of time for Bowie to get through six solid innings and hand the ball over to Our Ever Solid Bullpen.
Bowie to Saul Rivera to Big Jon Rauch was as solid as Micah--holding the four run lead through eight complete. Unfortunately, Jesus Colome, called on to finish out the game in the 9th--was not. For really the first time all season, Jesus DID NOT HAVE IT and he nearly cost Washington the ball game. Miguel Tejada led off the bottom of the 9th with solid Home Run to left putting run number four on the board for Baltimore. Aubrey Huff followed with a clean single to right. And, although Jay Payton would be retired on a slow roller to Guzman, sending Huff to second--Our Number 43 sent the game tying run to the plate when he walked Melvin Mora, bringing the left handed swinging Paul Bako to the plate. The "O-RI-OLES!!" chant was heard throughout the park from those Baltimore Fans remaining. And, Our Manager Manny Acta had seen enough of Colome. Like everyone else tonight, he well knew--Groundhog Day was in full effect. Manny called for "The Chief" Chad Cordero who trotted out to SAVE THIS NIGHTMARE that had erupted. No Way Our Washington Nationals want to relive losing another sure win late. There is nothing more demoralizing. Even "The Chief" understands that.
Baltimore sent the left handed, light hitting, Paul Bako to the plate. In the short history of Our Washington Nationals, he's the prototypical player that tends to beat us late. Usually not the opposing teams Top Star, but a journeyman. Was I ever worried. The African Queen telling me to calm down. From total relaxation to sheer tension, I had moved to the edge of my seat. "The Chief" was on the mound. Anything could happen. Chad Cordero kept throwing strike after strike. Bako kept fouling off swing after swing. The more pitches he fouled, the more worried I became. For whatever reason, Our Number 32 was not fooling Paul Bako. But, Chad did not give in--and finally on the 7th and final pitch of this At-Bat, Bako grounded to "The Guz" who tossed to FLop at second retiring Mora, then Lopez pivot tossing to first to JUST BEAT Bako for the GAME ENDING DOUBLE PLAY!!
What a relief!! Career Save Number 100 for Chad Cordero was thrilling. A win that was far more adventurous than I imagined, when tonight's 9th inning began. For Three Innings Today, Our Washington Nationals Replayed Groundhog Day, over and over and over again. The Baltimore Orioles were left wondering exactly what they had just observed, until it was too late. The many Nationals Fans in attendance eyewitnessed Curly "W" number 27 for 2007. A solid 7-4 win to be remembered by Nats Fans--again, and again, and again.
Thank you Chad Cordero for not reliving Groundhog Day, yourself.
Game Notes & Highlights:
My Main Main!! Ryan Church got Washington on the board with an opposite field Homer off Cabrera in the top of the second. A near liner that JUST made it over the wall in left center. A Home Run that, at best, would have bounced off the warning track at RFK Stadium. The Home Run, Number 19's seventh of the season.
In the bottom of the 3rd, The Orioles Brian Roberts slapped a hard grounder to Ryan Zimmerman's right, down the third baseline. "Z" dove to his right, toward the line--backhanded the baseball--immediately popping up and throwing across the diamond to record the out on the speedy Roberts. It was The Defensive Play of This Game.
Micah Bowie again pitched a solid six innings. Only making one real mistake, his Home Run Pitch to Mora in the second that cost him three runs. Except for that bad half inning, Micah pitched extremely well, only giving up two additional hits and two walks. Number 59 continues to resurrect a career from nowhere.
If Major League Baseball wants to build a rivalry between Our Washington Nationals and The Baltimore Orioles--why does MLB schedule the second three game set between these teams at Camden Yards on a WEEKNIGHT!! That is just foolish. No one is thinking the Big Picture. Last season on a weekend, Baltimore sold out two of the three games at Oriole Park. Tonight's announced crowd of 21,151 is weak and was nowhere near what it could have been. Just poor decision making by Major League Baseball. You have to wonder sometime whether MLB has a clue of how to promote themselves properly.
With Dimitri Young batting in the top of the 5th inning--MASN showed our good friend Tom sitting in the stands at Camden Yards. Tom is well known throughout RFK STADIUM as the Leader of The NatPack during the first two seasons of Nationals Baseball. In 2007, Tom has stepped up to be In Charge of The In-Game Entertainment. Sitting on both sides of Tom were other Nat Pack Members, including Angela who sang The National Anthem last Thursday Afternoon when The Pittsburgh Pirates were in DC. The African Queen and I were excited to see them.
Speaking of MASN, from the sixth inning on tonight, their broadcast had terrible audio. First a constant buzzing noise (which was also heard on MASN 2 carrying The Orioles Side of the broadcast). But then the crowd noise became far more prevalent over the announcers. At times, you could not hear Bob Carpenter or Ray Knight. Of course, when it comes to Carpenter continuing to rave about Oriole Players over Washington's--that probably was not a bad thing.
How about that Justin Verlander No Hitter tonight in Detroit against Milwaukee? That boy can pitch. When you can reach 101 Miles Per Hour on your fastball in the 9th inning, you are one talented guy. Sohna and I were switching back and forth from the 7th inning on. When The Tigers come to RFK Stadium next week, I was really looking forward to possibly seeing him pitch. Unless Detroit gets a rainout against The Phillies before next Monday, Our Washington Nationals will miss him during their three games here. Too bad. I really wanted to see him, upclose and personal--despite what that might mean to Washington's chances of winning. Never do I shy away from wanting to see the top talent.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Nick Wass