Monday, July 16, 2007
Those Left Standing among 22,392 that decided to show up tonight at RFK Stadium were in one happy mood. Yeah, "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" was about to shut down The Houston Astros in Order in the top of the 9th. That will always bring a smile to any Fan of Our Washington Nationals. But, Chad Cordero Closing this tight game out was not the sole reason to rejoice. This Game, Tonight's Game, was a well played affair by Our Team. Washington, not only received good pitching, but some fine defensive plays, and One Clutch hit, to turn this Ball Game Around. Our Team coming from behind to beat The Houston Astros 4-3, on one extremely HUMID & Hot Night. Game Time Temperature--87 Degrees.
Most everything Our Team did tonight--worked. And, The Roar for "The Chief's" strikeout of Craig Biggio to end this affair was in Appreciation of everything witnessed beforehand. The Weather was Sweltering. But, Our Washington Nationals play, was just as Hot. There was alot to acknowledge in this one.
Our Team Played Small Ball.
Ryan Church plating the first run of the evening home with a simple ground out to shortstop--scoring Ryan Zimmerman, after "Z" and Dimitri Young knocked back to back singles in the 4th.
Our Team Pitched Solidly.
Starter Mike Bacsik going strongly into the sixth inning.
And, Saul Rivera getting Bacsik out of a jam during that sixth inning--when FLop threw away a routine grounder to first base. Saul shutting down a 1st and 3rd situation with two runs already in for Houston. Our Number 52 earned it tonight.
Our Team Did Not Leave Many Runners On Base.
When Rivera ended The Astros Rally, but now trailing 2-1, Our Washington Nationals immediately fought back--Ronnie Belliard singled, Ryan Zimmerman laying one gorgeous bunt down the third baseline for a single. And, then THE BIG WHACK OF THE NIGHT--Dimitri Young sending RFK STADIUM into a FRENZY when he absolutely BELTED a Woody Williams pitch deep over the right field wall and off The Washington Hall of Stars Banner above Our Bullpen. A Three Run Homer putting Our Nats back in the lead. This time for good.
Just like that--Washington showed the ability to quell another team's rally, minimizing their damage. Then, proceeded to inflict some serious harm of their own. Our Number 21's 9th Homer of the Season was The Knockout Punch Tonight. A Tremendous Clout that got everyone up on their feet in great joy. Honestly--how much worse would we be--and how more difficult would these games be to watch--if not for Dimitri Young. At the plate, he's playing OUT OF HIS MIND!! In many respects, he's become a "MUST SEE"--each and every time he steps to the plate.
Our Team Made Some Nice Defensive Plays.
Austin Kearns was involved in two outfield assists--including one double play.
And, Felipe Lopez fielded a sharply hit ground ball by Hunter Pence at short--relayed to Ronnie Belliard at second to retire Craig Biggio, whereupon Belliard pivoted (again as well as any second baseman in the game) to Dimitri Young at First Base for one swift looking Double Play to end the 7th inning.
Finally--Brian Schneider took advantage of Houston's Brad Ausmus' chopper struck right down in the dirt--behind Home Plate in the 9th. The baseball's spin curved the bouncer right over Home Plate. Schneider reacted quickly, jumped up, and with the ball now just in front of Home Plate--easily caught it in his catcher's mitt and just as easily tossed out Ausmus at first base to get Chad Cordero off to a strong start in top of the 9th. Brian Schneider's quick reactions, and quicker thinking, was The Defensive Play of This Game.
Our Team's Closer made sure this game was never in doubt.
"The Chief Cardiologist" was anything but exciting tonight. Our Number 32 was just firing away, staying ahead in the count--confident. He looked good. His Save Number 16 included the fine sight of Chad Cordero pumping both his fists in great bliss over his commanding performance on that final strikeout. And received a High Five from his catcher Schneider--all the while--The Bang!! Zoom!! of The Fireworks!! signaled a pleasing end to Curly "W" Number 38.
Really, this was as solid and as good of a close win by Our Washington Nationals, All Season Long. Just Excellent. All on a night, Nats Faithful in Attendance appreciated everything they witnessed at RFK STADIUM. The Crowd into this game from the very start. And, they were rewarded by Our Team for that support.
Game Notes & Highlights:
An EXTREMELY RARE MOMENT IN THIS ONE. The very sight of Our Manager Manny Acta rushing out to complain at an Umpire's Call. In the top of the seventh--Craig Biggio grounded to Dimitri's right. Young backhanded the baseball then tossed to the fast moving Saul Rivera--but slightly away from him. Saul slowed down, caught the ball while stepping on first base, moments before Biggio reached. First Base Umpire Laz Diaz ruled Biggio Safe. And, Manny came running. I can only remember Our Manager coming out two other times all season to dispute a call. So, you figured he had to be right. Manny Acta was. But, that didn't convince Laz Diaz to change his opinion. Television Replays showed Saul Rivera beat Craig Biggio to the bag. The image of Our Manager running out to argue received a standing ovation.
During the 2006 season, Ryan Zimmerman would surprise his opponents by laying down drag bunts for clean singles--inciting rallies. 11 times last season, "Z's" efforts were successful works of art. An Art Form lost in his 2007 Game. For the first time all season long--Ryan Zimmerman laid down a beautiful drag bunt in the bottom of the sixth off Williams. And, just like last year--his stylish effort motivated his teammates. Dimitri Young followed with the Game Winning Home Run. Hopefully, Zimmerman will once again use his bunting skills, at the right times--to once again fire up Our Team, and keep rallies going.
Although he tired in that 6th inning--Mike Bacsik pitched well. Never will he ever be a huge strikeout guy, but this evening--he just let his defense do the work for him. Our Number 37 actually looked good tonight. Over his last 27.2 innings, he's just walked THREE GUYS. Saul Rivera was even better. Earning the win tonight (his 4th of the season) going 1.1 innings of scoreless baseball. Rivera kept Our Team in this game.
Austin Kearns was involved in two outfield assists this game. In the top of the 2nd with Morgan Ensberg on 1st base for The Astros--Eric Brumlett lined a shot to Kearns in rightfield, with the hit and run on. Austin easily caught Brumlett's drive, then lobbed the ball to Dimitri Young for a inning ending Double Play. Then, in the 4th--Bacsik was in a little trouble after allowing a Lance Berkman single and Carlos Lee walk with one out. Mark Loretta lined a shot to Austin's left, the ball dipping quickly to the ground. Kearns charged in and dove for the ball with his left hand, his glove hand. To the naked eye, it appeared he caught the ball, but First Base Umpire, Laz Diaz, rightly called the catch a trap. Carlos Lee ran to second. But, Berkman--believing Austin had caught the baseball and not looking at the Umpire's Signal-also ran back to second base. His confusion, allowed Our Number 25 to get up and throw to Zimmerman at third for an easy force out. And, rally killing mistake by The Houston Astros. Thank You, Lance Berkman.
In the 8th--Carlos Lee would absolutely CLUB a Jon Rauch Pitch into the Mezzanine, just below Section 447 in Left Center for a NO DOUBT Home Run. Earlier in the game--Lee had stroked a Bacsik pitch into the Upper Deck, but foul down the left field line. This all reminded me of the 2005 Inaugural Season, when Carlos--then a Milwaukee Brewer--hammered three straight pitches into the Yellow Seats--Section 536 during batting practice one evening. Not many were in attendance that pregame. But, those who were--just stood and clapped. Including, every single member of The Brewers. I don't think I will ever forget those clouts.
In 29 games since returning from The Bereavement List--Chad Cordero has 12 saves and a 1.88 ERA. Those are some very good numbers.
SeyHeyKlib noticed in Section 320: "This may be the very first time any team, for defensive purposes late in a game, moves their starting first baseman to shortstop." Its true--The Houston Astros replaced Eric Brumlett with Mark Loretta in the bottom of the 8th. MickNats responded--"And, we replaced Our Hottest Hitter (Dimitri Young) for Robert Fick--batting .214. Go Figure."
Tonight was a Wild Night in Section 320. Ringleader Abby was in Attendance with her parents-Becky & Mike in tow. MickNats, "The Noise Boys", Scott, John, The African Queen and Myself. My Best Friend Screech!! was in prime form. Mimicking many of our regulars--but when he kicked over MickNats Beer-was he EVER IN TROUBLE!! Shamed, but trying to get away with his error, Screech--pointed to the CSC Security Guard, then to one of The Ushers. To no avail, everyone knew who was at fault. My Best Friend had to slowly walk away depressed. But, then his remorse turned to joy--when MickNats forgave him. They both celebrated performing "The BobbleBelly Dance". EVERYONE CRACKED UP!! Its such a GREAT Sight!!
Screech also telling us he FROZE HIS Rather Large Tush Off performing in San Francisco at the All Star Game last week. But, he had a great time!!! San Francisco, the only city in America where you need a winter jacket during the summer.
Finally, sitting just to the right of all us in Section 320 this evening--Special Assistant to Our General Manager--Barry Larkin.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Manuel Balce Ceneta