Saturday, June 23, 2007
Losing Twice In The Same Inning--Badly
Just Three Outs to go. "The Chief Cardiologist" on the mound with a two run lead. What looked like a sure win--quickly turned to what was assuredly a TERRIBLE loss. Then, out of nowhere--HOPE WAS ALIVE--A VICTORY WAS AT HAND. Until--THE BIGGEST BONEHEAD BASERUNNING DECISION OF THE YEAR--KILLED THE RALLY--Leaving Our Washington Nationals and their Fans FUMING over a DEVASTATING LOSS. This one Hurt. A 4-3 Defeat Tonight to The Cleveland Indians that will take some time to recover from. WHAT A CATASTROPHE!!
Innocently, the downfall started as Chad Cordero trotted out to finish off The Indians in the 9th. Holding a 3-1 lead at that point, Our Washington Nationals had continued to play the crisp baseball shown last night in their Victory over Cleveland 4-1. Good Pitching, Timely Hitting and some decent Defense. Not a single Nats Fan on hand DID NOT BELIEVE a Win was at hand. Yet, this game got out of hand mighty quickly.
Our Manager Manny Acta had rotated his outfield for defensive purposes to start this final inning. Brandon Watson moved from centerfield to left-replacing Ryan Church. Nook Logan would report to center. Oddly, for whatever reason--no matter what batter stepped to the plate for The Indians in the 9th--Watson set himself almost on the WARNING TRACK. Why, I do not know. But, when Cleveland's Franklin Gutierrez opened the inning with a solid liner to left off "The Chief", it had me wondering. Now, I am not sure if Watson could have made a play, even if positioned closer to the infield---but you had to wonder. And, Janet & I really started to worry when Casey Blake followed with another sharp lined single to left. Cordero wasn't fooling anybody--but his leftfielder may not have been helping out, either.
With runners now on 1st & 3rd with no outs--the very dangerous Victor Martinez stepped to the plate--batting lefthanded. A good hitter, with power. No doubt--Our Washington Nationals would give up that second run of the game to The Indians for a double play grounder. Unfortunately--Our Number 32 wasn't throwing too many effective sliders. And, on his very first pitch to Martinez--Victor POUNCED ON IT--Driving a DEEP FLY TO DEAD CENTERFIELD. A NO DOUBT--GAME CHANGING--THREE RUN HOMER. Just like that--Chad Cordero had given it all away. A Blown Save. A Huge Turn of Events. Many Cleveland Indian Fans JUMPED AND HOLLERED. Nationals fans throwing up their arms in disgust. It sure looked like Our Washington Nationals were down for the count.
Yet, Amazingly They WERE NOT. As has been the case all season long--this team, Our Team--does not quit. "The Chief" would retire The Indians without any further damage. And, when Brian Schneider lead off the bottom of the 9th with a clean first pitch single to center off Cleveland Closer Joe Borowski--The Nats Faithful still on hand rose to the occasion. The Crowd Stirring--Our Hopes Alive. There might still be a chance. An opportunity that surely faded when Watson attempted to bunt Schneiderman to second, but instead--being another bad bunter on a terrible bunting team--"00" popped up to The Indians Catcher Kelly Shoppach for out number one. There could not have been a person simmering more than I over another failed bunt attempt by Our Washington Nationals.
Personally, I have stated my point many times before. To Bunt is a skill--but not a hard skill. Rarely, have I seen such futility at the plate trying to move runners up, so continuously poorly--as Our Washington Nationals. Really, I don't understand their problem.
Yet, those concerns were behind me, momentarily, when Nook Logan followed Watson's Out with a slicing right handed hitting drive to left center. Schneider ran hard--all the way to third. And, Nook--with Indians Centerfielder Grady Sizemore making the play in front of him--still easily trotted into second base with a one out double. Everyone now on their feet--the NOISE LEVEL at RFK STADIUM reaching its ZENITH for the NIGHT. Just as quickly as Our Washington Nationals had lost this affair in the top of the 9th--Victory was, incredibly, now at hand. Just one key hit. This Game Would Be Won.
With "The Guz", stepping to the plate--everyone had to realize The Indians would walk Cristian Guzman to load up the bases and set up the force play. Cleveland had no other options. FLop was next--Ryan Zimmerman in hole. Last season, Zimmerman had hit one his MOST FAMOUS GAME WINNING HOME RUNS in the bottom of 9th--against The Florida Marlins on July 4th. The Closer that day for The Marlins--The Current Closer--now on the mound for The Indians--Joe Borowski. This game was coming to its final play. Who didn't wish to see Our Number 11 at the plate with the game on the line. But, first it was FLop's turn.
Little did ANYONE REALIZE Felipe Lopez would be the catalyst, although not personally at fault, for The Worst Play Of The YEAR!!
FLop settled in, batting lefthanded. Very few, if anyone, WAS NOT STANDING. This was crunch time. Felipe would take ball one in the dirt. Then, foul off Borowski's second offering. With A Frantic Crowd now living on each pitch--FLop stepped out to call time--gather himself. Borowski looked in--set himself--and tossed his third pitch of this Key At-Bat to Lopez. Felipe swung and topped the baseball to the left of the pitcher's mound. The Cleveland Closer rushed off the mound and had to make an off balance catch to retrieve the baseball--then turned and fired home to Shoppach to retire Brian Schneider with the second out of the inning. Despite the run not scoring--it appeared Our Washington Nationals were still alive with Zimmerman coming to the plate. What are the odds that "Z" does not deliver? Everyone wanted to see this At-Bat.
Ryan never got his chance. Because with Kelly Shoppach now holding the baseball after catching the toss from Borowski--FOR WHATEVER REASON--NOOK LOGAN ROUNDED THIRD BASE AS IF TRYING TO SCORE on the play. Now standing at least one third of the way down the line toward home--Our Number 7 was in serious trouble. A good throwing Catcher like Shoppach will not misfire. Kelly threw hard to Casey Blake at third base. Nook Logan, diving back in--WAS OUT BY A MILE!!
IT WAS THE MOST TERRIBLE BASERUNNING BLUNDER OF THE SEASON!! Nook Logan had taken the bat out of the hands of OUR BEST PLAYER--with the game on the line. UNFORGIVEABLE.
Our Washington Nationals losing 4-3 in a game Their Closer--Chad Cordero--gave it up BIG TIME--his first blown save in some time. And Nook Logan, Killing RallyTime!!--by using his speed--but not thinking how best to utilize his god given talents.
Tonight--Our Washington Nationals lost Twice--In THE SAME INNING--Badly.
Game Notes & Highlights:
Matt Chico again pitched solidly into the 7th inning. And, when he walked the leadoff hitter, Jhonny Peralta--Our Manager Manny Acta took Our Number 47 out to a Thunderous Applause. Matt Chico had again pitched well enough to win. A Sure Victory in his personal record book--until that devastating 9th inning. Jesus Colome and Jon Rauch held the lead until that fateful final inning of play. Chico continues to impress and grow up on the mound. Really, he has come a long way since Spring Training. Tonight--he deserved a win against a very good team.
In the top of the second inning--Dimitri Young slapped a sinking liner down the right field line--Cleveland Right Fielder Franklin Gutierrez ran hard all the way and dove to his left at the very last second to snare the baseball. Indians Centerfielder Grady Sizemore would rob Ryan Zimmerman in the 8th with a totally sprawled out dive to his right in left centerfield for another out. Both Plays combined to become The Defensive Plays of This Game.
And, of course--When Sizemore hammered out a Home Run to Right Center off Chico in the top of the sixth--it only continued to make me wonder about what could have been. Centerfield has been a lost position for Our Washington Nationals these first three seasons of play in Washington. No one has held the position long enough, or effectively enough, to consider the job theirs. No, I will not harp on it, as I have before--But, Boy--Would I EVER LOVE TO SEE GRADY SIZEMORE as our Centerfielder. As everyone knows--Grady was traded off by MLB as an Expos Prospect--when Contraction was in the works for Montreal and Minnesota. Its just saddening. And, Cliff Lee goes tomorrow as the top lefthanded starter for Cleveland against Our Washington Nationals. Lee was also involved in the same trade as Sizemore.
Tonight, On Cap Night at RFK Stadium--Our Washington Nationals were rewarded with their GREATEST WALK-UP total attendance since baseball returned to The Nation's Capital. 6,863 Baseball Fans, decided just today--to head over to East Capitol Street and see Washington play Cleveland. The 32,539 total draw was the 2nd largest of this season--only Opening Day drew more. And, it was the 3rd time more than 30,000 had ventured out to watch Nationals Baseball in 2007 at RFK.
That's a good sign--the first week after school ended.
Finally--The African Queen and I were involved in a ugly mess tonight. Two Folks in attendance this evening--sitting four seats to our right in the row in front of us in Section 320--did not enjoy or like any of Our Chants, Cheers and Songs. And, when Sohna started to use her customary beer bottle during RALLYTIME!! to bang on our seat handles in the bottom of the 7th inning--they took great exception. They wanted us to remain quiet. Our fun was not to their liking. They wanted us to just shut up and say nothing, don't even cheer--with the game on the line.
The African Queen and I have never bothered ANYONE attending any game at RFK Stadium. We are courteous to a fault. Our fun is enjoyed by HUNDREDS surrounding the lower bowl of RFK Stadium. Not a single other sole sitting around us did not feel this couple was WAY OUT OF LINE. Yet, These Two Complaining Folks actually assumed, wrongly, that Sohna was by herself. Little did they realize we were together. Obviously, we sort of stand out. And, they began to talk DOWN to her--in a tone--I am sure you will understand. An unacceptable tone. And, when The Husband of this couple tried to grab Sohna and tell her that he was going to send that beer bottle up her YOU KNOW WHERE--It was time to take some action.
As this threatening man went to Our Ushers to complain--we waited patiently--never did we raise our voice--and treat them with any disrepect. Our Ushers know us well and they told this complainer that we don't bother anyone. But, if they wish, they would relocate them to other seats. Which was done--with now both The Husband and Wife throwing vulgarities at Sohna while leaving. We didn't say a word back. Its not our style.
Sohna and I stepped forward--we told everyone in charge our side. And, we were backed up by EVERYONE ELSE in Section 320. Even Kathy, who sits just to my left--went down to talk with these two folks to explain Section 320--only to see this couple dish her and tell her to take a hike. Kathy saying these two were "Talking DOWN TO SOHNA, AND NOW ME." Fortunately--those folks were finally taken care of.
Unfortunately--I missed most of the 7th and all of the 8th inning sorting this mess out.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Nick Wass