Thursday, July 19, 2007
An Improbable Win
First Our Washington Nationals fell behind early. Then Our Hottest Hitter got ejected. Followed by repeated failures at the plate with runners in scoring position. Not much was going right against The Colorado Rockies tonight at RFK Stadium. Then, just when you believed a definite loss was at hand, Our Manager pulled all the right buttons. His Bullpen trotted out to pitch 4 STELLAR PERFECT INNINGS--12 Up & 12 Down. And, his bench came alive with the two key strokes of this ball game.
Our Washington Nationals were now going CRAZY on the field! Number 6 wearing the Home Whites was being pummeled in Jubilation. What was left of 20,573 were jumping up and down in celebration at RFK Stadium. How in the world did Our Washington Nationals pull this game out? The Fact that this ballgame had reached THIS conclusion, was UNTHINKABLE, over three hours earlier. One of the oddest 5-4 Victories over The Colorado Rockies, you will ever witness.
A Game that also featured a TITANIC TWO RUN SHOT, just two batters into this game. The "Houdini" Act by "Our Starter In Training" to actually last 6 full innings (when it appeared he could not possibly make it out of the 4th). While Colorado's Starter was humbling Washington's Hitters in his third Major League Start. The Continuing Failure by Our Washington Nationals to plate runners in scoring position--countless times. And, yes, Manny Acta actually emptying his bench. This game went down to his final available hitter.
When you have just One Hit in 25 At-Bats, you have to figure D'Angelo Jimenez is going to be The Last Resort--no matter what. He only plays, if no one else is available. Just such a scenario played out tonight. Heading into the bottom of the 10th this evening, tied at four--Colorado's LaTroy Hawkins was on the mound, pitching into his third inning. The Rockies usual closer--Brian Fuentes was unavailable, having pitched in three straight games (UPDATE--Fuentes is on The Disabled List as I have been soundly corrected). And when Austin Kearns led off with a clean single up the middle to get the Home Crowd Going, Brian Schneider had no choice but to sacrifice bunt Kearns to second. Setting up the decisive final events. Big Jon Rauch was the scheduled hitter. Manny made the only move available to him. Acta had used up all his bench players, save Jimenez now. D'Angelo was sent to the plate to pinch hit. With one out, you had to question why The Rockies now decided to even pitch to D'Angelo. Sure--he's not helped so far this season. But, would you not want to set up a possible inning ending double play and pitch to Washington's next hitter--Nook Logan? Logan had already grounded out off Hawkins, with the go ahead run on third in the bottom of the 8th.
Sure seemed liked a no brainer, to walk Jimenez. To most everyone's surprise--The Rockies did not. Especially, after LaTroy threw a wild pitch, sending Kearns to third base.
With D'Angelo actually now getting the opportunity to bat, even he had to realize, there are nine separate ways to score from third base with less than two outs. Could Our Washington Nationals actually find even one of those and win. Rockies Manager Clint Hurdle advanced this possibility when he decided to draw in his infield and not walk Jimenez. Hawkins had shown little control all night. Only the impatience at the hands of Washington Bats--had kept him in the game. Yet, D'Angelo must have finally understood the message. BE PATIENT. Look for something good to hit. He first took ball one--as The Crowd Rose to its feet. When Jimenez took ball two, the now excited throng let out a HUGE ROAR. Everyone sensing, almost in disbelief--Washington Might WIN!!
With a 2-0 count in his favor--Jimenez stared out at Hawkins. This was THE TIME. Exactly 3 hours & 30 Minutes after this arduous affair began, who was going to blink first. The struggling hitter, or the suffering reliever.
LaTroy tossed in his pitch of choice. Not a good one. And, D'Angelo Jimenez finally delivered!! He of .040 Batting Average. A liner right up the middle to win, not a chance for any Colorado fielder to retrieve it. Austin Kearns scored this game's winning run. And, Our Washington Nationals ran jubilantly onto the field!!! Even Our Manager Manny Acta was seen jumping up and down. First with Ryan Zimmerman. Then, with the gleeful Jimenez.
An inconceivable victory because little did anyone believe that Our Washington Nationals would win at 7:15PM this evening. Only 2 hitters into the game, Matt Chico had already walked leadoff hitter Wily Taveras, then served up ONE MAMMOTH TWO HOME RUN, to Section 444 down the left field line, to Rockies Rookie Sensation Troy Tulowitski. By 8:15PM, Our Number 47 was down 4-1 when he, again, gave up a Two Run Blast to left center to Garrett Atkins, after walking Todd Helton. Chico was showing little control, less command.
In between these belts by The Rockies, Dimitri Young made a foolish mistake. Its one thing to argue a called strike three with an umpire. Its way out of bounds to turn back around--after having your say--to continue the battle--while your team has runners in scoring position. And, then get yourself thrown out of the ballgame. Being in attendance tonight, as always, I have no idea whether Dimitri Young had a legitimate beef or not with Home Plate Umpire Rob Drake during that 3rd inning mess. But Our 2007 All Star didn't act like one. His ejection from RFK Stadium this evening, completely changed the outcome, forcing Our Manager Manny Acta to make a flurry of moves and maneuvers in an attempt to get Our Washington Nationals back into this game against The Colorado Rockies.
Eventually, it worked.
But, not before repeated failures at the plate with runners in scoring position. You name the player for Our Washington Nationals and most all of them left runners on base in this game. Finally, Our Manager got his desired result--in an unexpected way and unlikely source. Time and Time again Manny Acta had gone to his bench. First with Robert Fick to replace the departed Dimitri Young. Then, Tony Batista to pinch hit in the 6th. Now--he chose Jesus Flores with runners on first and second with two outs. Down 4-2, MY Main Man!! Ryan Church had singled to right off Colorado's Jeremy Affeldt, followed by Austin Kearns being Hit by Pitch.
Our Rule V Draftee has shown plenty of promise--in the field. Less so standing at the plate. Tonight--that pledge turned to aptitude. Our Number 3 stroked a liner to right that would score Church easily with Washington's Third Run, but turned into GLORY, when Rockies rightfielder Brad Hawpe let the ball GO RIGHT THROUGH HIS LEGS!! Kearns was on the GO!! And easily scored this game's tying run. Jesus Flores was standing on third happily clapping his hands together. He had DELIVERED, WITH THE GAME ON THE LINE AND TWO OUTS!! Just like that. Our Washington Nationals were back in it. What a ROAR from the Nats Faithful, when that baseball was botched by Hawpe. The Head Jumping along the third base side had returned. An unexpected party was beginning.
A Celebration that reached its Climax in the 10th--when D'Angelo Jimenez set off The BANG!! ZOOM!! of The Fireworks. An improbable win this Curly "W" Number 40. A TRIUMPH TRULY BEYOND BELIEF!! Only Baseball can continually provide such theatrics.
Game Notes & Highlights:
When Dimitri Young started his argument with Umpire Drake, where in world was Manny Acta? Ryan Church attempted to step between Young and Drake--but Our Manager was slow footed getting out of the Dugout to protect his man. Manny, I know you are not the arguing type. I understand. But, your hottest hitter was getting himself in a serious mess. Get out there. FAST.
How in world does Matt Chico Survive sometimes? 7 Hits allowed, 3 walks, 107 pitches thrown. He was all over the place tonight, yet somehow hung in there, once again. NOTHING MUST WORRY THIS YOUNG MAN. Matt Chico is fearless. That's impressive--even when his game is not.
Luis Ayala was lights out tonight. After struggling on Monday Night, walking two and hitting one Astro batter in his only inning--Our Number 56 started off The Perfect Game by Our Bullpen Tonight. Six up, Six Down for Luis. "The Chief" followed with a 1-2-3 9th. And, "The Wookie" a scoreless 10th and recipient of The WIN, his 4th of 2007. Big Jon did not wear his HIGH RED SOCKS that made him look so large yesterday. The Rockies saw his usual long white pants, no socks showing.
There was nice scene in the top of the 9th with Chad Cordero on the mound. For about the Billionth time, Ryan Zimmerman made a fine defensive play. This time, "Z" charged in toward the mound to pickoff a Jamey Carroll grounder. Reaching down, gloving the baseball, then tossing the ball to first in one motion--Carroll was out by a step. Cordero standing right next to Ryan as he finished off the play--patted Zimmerman on his right shoulder in thanks for his efforts. There could not be a single player on Our Team that does not understand the talent Our Number 11 possesses.
After Flores game tying two run hit and error, Manny sent Nook Logan out to pinch hit for Ayala. The Rockies countermoved with LaTroy Hawkins. The Game is tied. Its the bottom of the 8th. Jesus represents the go ahead run. "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" is warming up. Hawkins well known for his limited control. What does Logan do? He swings at the very first pitch, low and outside--grounds out to short--to kill the rally! Sorry, but Nook Logan does not understand the nuances of this game. This Ball Game was there for the taking. And, Our Number 7, wasn't thinking, nor using experience to his advantage. No reason to swing at LaTroy's very first offering. NONE!!!
And, while I am on the subject--lets please get rid of Tony Batista. Not Helping. Never Will. Just about anyone else would be better. Whether its Casto, Restovich, Castro, you name him--I would rather have any one of them over Batista. ANYONE!!
With two runs already in for The Rockies, thanks to Atkins Homer in the 4th-Colorado had runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs. Looking to break this game open, Wily Taveras laced a liner down the right field line. Robert Fick--in for the departed Young--dove to his left--AND CAUGHT THE BASEBALL. Our Number 13 saved Chico and two additional runs from scoring. His effort was The Defensive Play of This Game.
Colorado started Ubaldo Jimenez tonight. Making his third ever Major League Appearance, he had Washington hitters fooled most all night. This Jimenez pitched into the 6th and was in the position for a win, until his bullpen let him down.
Matt Chico & Ubaldo Jimenez combined to throw 213 pitches. With both lasting into the 6th inning--this game was one slow moving affair. Almost American League style, in its dawdling clip.
Finally, The Debut of Our Number 1 Draft Pick: Ross Detwiler, Washington’s top pick (6th overall) in this June’s draft, made his pro debut this afternoon with the GCL Nationals...Detwiler tossed 2.0 scoreless innings, allowing 2 hits against the GCLDodgers...he struck out 3 and did not walk a batter...he threw 30 pitches/19 strikes. You can bet, many of Washington's Top Brass were on hand in Florida to watch that one.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Haraz N. Ghanbari