Friday, August 31, 2007
Swung On!! And Driven DEEP!! to right field, where will it land??!! Section 467, Row 7!!--Yes, Barry Bonds had done it again. This Time Launching a Drive into the Upper Deck at RFK Stadium. Those on hand actually cheered. And, with that swing--BATTING PRACTICE for The San Francisco Giants Ended at 6:20PM. Hard it was to believe--but that BP Swing may well have been the highlight for this evening.
Twenty Minutes Later, The San Francisco Giants Batting Order was announced. The New All Time Home Run King was sitting this game out. No Chance for The Washington Faithful to Boo Baseball's Most Polarizing Figure. No Opportunity for Our Washington Nationals to battle the Boys from The Bay with their best on the field. No Chance for The Home Fans to "GET IT ON" with Number 25. That Announcement pretty much killed the atmosphere at RFK Stadium. The Result--one of the most lackadaisical 3-2 defeats witnessed since The Return of Baseball to DC.
In this one--No Pizazz, No Umph, No Win--just a pretty crummy loss-- the seventh consecutive by Our Washington Nationals.
As is always the case when things are going wrong, much of the three talents of the game are missing. Tonight, good defense, mediocre starting pitching that couldn't throw a strike--saved by good relief. And, the absolute near impossible ability to move a runner up into scoring position in a close game. In any one run game--the nuances of baseball must be handled deftly. Bunting, or advancing a baserunner--a deficiency Washington has shown all season. This Evening that lack of skill killing any chance of tying or taking the lead. Better expertise that may well have changed this ball game to the winning side for Our Washington Nationals.
Bottom of the first--no score. Dmitri Young opposite field single scores Nook Logan who had blooped a single to lead off the bottom half with the game's first run. FLop now standing on second after an infield single, Young on first--one out. Austin Kearns Pops to Center. Wily Mo Pena (a man of NO PATIENCE TONIGHT)--striking out badly against Giants Starter Kevin Correia. Inning Over.
In the bottom of the 2nd inning, Washington now trailing 3-1, Brian Schneider knocks a one out double. Nats Starting Pitcher Tim Redding can't advance him. Misses the bunt attempt and eventually grounds out to short. Nook Logan follows and meekly grounds to second base. Inning Over.
Bottom of the 4th--Kearns leadoff LINE DRIVE HOMER--just clearing the wall in left to make this game 3-2. Yet--Pena, Belliard nor Schneider can take advantage of Correia possibly losing his form. Inning over.
Bottom of the 7th--with Correia now out and Tyler Walker in for The Giants--Ronnie Belliard HAMMERS A FASTBALL deep to left field. A Drive that JUST MISSES going over the wall. A bouncer off the fence that put Our Number 10 on second base with Nobody Out. A situation that most GOOD teams will, more times than not--advance the runner to third and score him. Of course, Our Manager Manny Acta does not like to give up FREE OUTS and bunt. Schneider many times can ground the baseball to the right side, advancing the runner to third. Of course, when things are going bad--you get Our Number 23 lining an out to centerfield. A First Out doubled to two when My Main Man!! Ryan Church was sent out by Manny to pinch hit for Chris Schroder. An appearance that resulted in a meek pop up to San Francisco Shortstop Omar Vizquel. The Second Out that found Church slamming his bat to the ground as he ran out the play. A potential game tying inning when Nook Logan followed and Struck Out BADLY against Walker. Inning over.
A frustrating situation that got only worse in the bottom of the 9th, when The Giants Brad Hennessey trotted out to retire and END THIS GAME on three WEAK POPUPS. At-Bats, where Our Washington Nationals were pressing. When Wily Mo Pena swings at the very first pitch he may have seen from Hennessey in nearly two years--that's not concentrating. Captivation which Ronnie Belliard showed none of, by swinging at everything, and recording the second out of the 9th on Brad's second pitch. Yeah, another pop up to Ray Durham at Second Base. An Ending that came just two pitches later when Tony Batista Pinch Hit for Schneider--Manny Acta looking for that Magical last second gasp. Air which was extinguished when Our Number 77 also popped out, this time to Ryan Klesko in foul territory at first base to end the ball game. This time--not only inning over--But GAME OVER.
When Baserunners are scarce--it's necessary to capitalize on every single possible situation. Small ball was in order tonight. Play which Our Washington Nationals couldn't deliver on. The Result--a frustrating and less than tantalizing 3-2 loss at the hands of The Very Mediocre San Francisco Giants.
Barry Bonds didn't play on the last night of August. And, Our Fans were disappointed. Unquestionably, tonight's baseball game suffered from apathy as a result. No chutzpah with the most antithetical hero in the game on the sidelines. But hopefully, the always intriguing Bonds is going to play tomorrow--on Teddy Roosevelt Bobblehead Day. Only then, can every customer get their money's worth--both on and off the field--before all the INNINGS ARE OVER.
Game Notes & Highlights:
Amazing as it may seem--Our Nats now 19 GAMES BELOW .500 (58-77). How Times have changed in just ONE WEEK. Who would have believed after playing so decently for so long--that which was gained and left, as a lasting impression by DC's Team--might possibly be lost so quickly. My Most Charismatic Man--Manny--I implore you to emphasize to Your Troops, Our Team--to not give up. Plenty of baseball is yet to be played. Still, with just 27 games to go in 2007, advancement and achievement can be made.
Its hard to believe that Tim Redding survived even 5 innings tonight. He was all over the place. 5 hits and 5 walks--104 pitches thrown. From the get-go he didn't have anything on his pitches. Which actually made me wonder--September Call Ups are tomorrow--the very next game. Just throw Mike Bascik out there sooner than the 5th. Or, whomever you wish. Replacement players are on the way--up to 15 total. Might as well take advantage of the situation. Our Number 17 labored through his effort tonight. Everyone watching knew that--just take him out. Who cares if its the 2nd inning. Does it matter now--Really?
Although, Redding gave up all three runs to San Francisco in the second--all in frustrating fashion. A bloop fisted double down the right field line that bounced into the stands by Pedro Feliz. Omar Vizquel followed with a walk. Giant Rookie Rightfielder David Ortmeier then knocked a seeing eye grounder to right through the hole scoring Feliz. Only to see Correia lay down a bunt that Tim Redding first looked to third on--only to see Ryan Zimmerman charging on the play. A hard bunt by The San Francisco Pitcher that if Our Number 17 was thinking, would have resulted in a 1-6-3 double play if he had thrown to second base right away. As it stood--Redding just tossed out Correia at first. A decision that proved costly when Rajai Davis smacked a two out broken bat single down the left field line past a drawn in Zimmerman (worried about a bunt from the swift Davis) to score The Giants 2nd and 3rd Runs of the evening. A Small Ball Inning for San Francisco that proved The Game Winner.
There were no really fine defensive efforts in this game, but there was one of those odd plays that Our Washington Nationals continually get themselves into, that make me wonder. With two outs in the top of the 8th--San Francisco Pinch Hitter Rich Aurilia grounded a baseball off Jesus Colome up the middle, shortstop side of second base. FLop moved quickly to his left and it appeared at first--Felipe had NO CHANCE. Yet, Lopez did not give up the ball and eventually found it in his mitt. A Surprise Look on his face (funny watching this develop) as he appeared to be amazed that he actually gathered the stroked hit. A delayed response found Our Number 2 wheeling around to his left and making a very decent, if slightly high, strong toss to Dmitri Young at first base. An effort that should have been a fine out and The Defensive Play of This Game. Only to see Young fail to even raise his heel off the first base bag--an inch--in an attempt to catch the toss. FLop's throw glancing off Our 2007 All Star's Glove for what was ruled an infield single. Come On Dmitri!! What baseball skills have you not learned about catching the simplest of tosses slightly off line. Even a High Schooler could have made that play. Yeah, you are a far better player than Robert Fick--although he replaces you in the final two innings of nearly every game. Could you please make the effort and practice the routine stuff? Maybe then Our Manager will let you play with the game on the line--at its conclusion.
"Our Starter in Training" Matt Chico has been recalled from AAA Columbus to start on Sunday against The Giants Barry Zito. Our Number 47 the first of two recalled players as rosters expand tomorrow. The hard throwing Winston Abreu also had his contract purchased to complement Our Over Taxed Bullpen. Necessary Moves for a beleaguered pitching staff.
Now--to the promised report--as I mentioned when The African Queen and I took our latest tour of New Nationals Park. When I stood in the very last row of right field--Home Plate Looked a MILE AWAY on South Capitol Street. So tonight--I walked up to Sections 549 & 550 on East Capitol Street. The Yellow Seats, last row. Without a doubt--THAT LAST ROW AT RFK STADIUM is STEEPER and FARTHER AWAY from Home Plate than New Nationals Park. Not even close. The Nats 3rd Base Dugout from Right Field appeared to be in another Time Zone. A Distance I didn't feel lost while standing at New Nationals Park. Really, RFK is MUCH BIGGER, WIDER AND DEEPER. In fact, I walked around the entire Upper Deck Tonight. New Nationals Park has better views--all around. That's a good sign.
Finally--The African Queen sat this game out--sick at home with the flu. Boy, did I ever hear it from all our friends tonight: "Where is your better half?" the constant question. Tonight was Sohna's only 4th missed game of 2007. Gotta give her credit for the support.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Gerald Herbert