Thursday, September 20, 2007
Inexperience & Inefficient
For most of the night--they had been quiet, almost tame. Our Washington Nationals were keeping, not only The Philadelphia Phillies--but also their obnoxious fans--in check. Leading 6-2, heading into the top of the 7th, Curly "W" Number 69 looked promising, almost in the bag--until Our Usually Reliable Bullpen broke down. Did they EVER GIVE IT UP--awaking a sleeping Giant--The Phillies on the field--their following in the stands.
Inexperience got Washington in Trouble. Inefficience decided the outcome.
A half frame that found Luis Ayala's power--running low on energy. And, Arnie Munoz virtually ON EMPTY. How two relievers can completely transform a game's outcome in just six batters--the frustration of baseball. The GREAT GAME that is unrelenting. Never can you relax. Never can you let your guard down. And, Our Number 56 did, by allowing a leadoff single to Greg Dobbs in that 7th. Then, followed it up by allowing Carlos Ruiz to walk on five pitches. A Free Pass that sent Our Manager Manny Acta quickly out of The Dugout--not to calm Luis down--but to take him out. Manny's gut feeling--Ayala didn't have it. And made a substitution Manny believed--would calm the storm. He picked situational lefty--Arnie Munoz--to face a right handed, power slugging, pinch hitter in Jayson Werth.
The thought might have been good--but the execution wasn't. Munoz looked lost for the very time since his recall in early September from AAA Columbus. An inability to find the plate, throw strikes--getting behind in the count. A failure to right himself that PROVED COSTLY. Attempting to just throw A STRIKE on a 3-1 pitch to Werth--Arnie Munoz fired in a toss right over the middle of the plate--belt high--And Jayson Werth BELTED that toss. A TITANIC SHOT--six rows deep into the Section 447 Upper Deck, left field. A Three Run Homer that gave Philadelphia's Followers ammunition to reload and continue their bad behavor. And The Phillies, new life in this game.
A now 6-5 score that became tied nearly right away--when Jimmy Rollins doubled down the left field line, moved to third on a sacrifice by Shane Victorino, and was plated on a ground ball to the hole between 1st and 2nd base. A Baseball that Ronnie Belliard should have just thrown to first to retire Chase, but unwisely threw home, in an attempt to retire the very fast Rollins. An impossible task under the circumstances. A bad decision by Our Number 10 that prolonged this Philadelphia Rally--three additional Phillies Hitters. This turnaround inning that was finally put to rest by Jonathan Abaledejo, coming on to put out the fire.
Momentum had now been lost. Doubt was in the minds of Our Washington Nationals. Never does it seem--The Team that plays in Our Nation's Capital can EVER put The Phillies away. Each game they play against the other, seems like a Marathon. Each battle getting ever more interesting. Every Game going deep into the night (tonight: 3 Hours, 28 Minutes). In a short period of time--The Nats & Phillies have the makings of a fine rivalry. Two Teams--approximately 135 miles apart--that tend to scratch and claw each other--the more times they meet on the field. Yeah, Those Phillie Fans are hard to take sometimes--but its never boring when Philadelphia's Finest step on the field of play--against Our Washington Nationals.
Uninteresting--never a description when these two teams play.
Excitement that continued to rise heading to the top of the 8th--when Jonathan Abaladejo was called on by Our Number 14 to pitch through a second inning. Another opportunity (like Munoz) to find out whether these youngsters have THE RIGHT STUFF to attract a 2008 Roster Spot. A Viable Option Abaladejo was making for himself--through his brief appearances this September. Quality work that took a hit when Ruiz walked with one out in that 8th Frame. Worry that many Nats Fans showed upon watching the events unfold--joy that Philadelphia's Finest Fans exclaimed. Yes, Our New Number 53 was in a little trouble--but fought back strong. After striking out Jayson Werth, for out number two--it appeared Abaladejo was going to get himself out of his own mess. But, a routine hard hit ground ball to first base--sunk him.
No, Dmitri Young did not get an error. Nor did Robert Fick. Young not available--Fick pinch hit for in the 7th. Tony Batista was manning first base, now. Rollins would slap a hard hit grounder to Batista at first base. All Our Number 77 had to do--was reach down, scoop the baseball into his glove--step on first--INNING OVER. Instead--Tony could not get his body to bend over, and ball went right under his glove for the final go ahead run of the evening. The Philadelphia Phillies 7, Our Washington Nationals 6.
The Phillies Celebrated. Their Fans Rejoiced--Washington's cried in disgust. Beaten once again--because lesser talent was in the game--when it counted the most. Really, its hard to believe--that since Nick Johnson went down nearly one year ago with a broken femur--Our Washington Nationals have not ONE DECENT PLAYER that can field First Base--not even well.
Just competently. Its all I ask.
And, the sound of Phillie Fans chanting "MVP" to Rollins for that eventual game winning hit-laughable. As my Section 320 friend Jim said: "It was a routine grounder--how can they possibly be yelling out 'MVP'" I agree--but then again--They are Phillie Fans. Not the most tasteful folks in this hemisphere.
Loss Number 85 of The 2007 Season was a bad one. A Defeat given away by both inexperienced talent and inefficient capabilites of some of their players.
Game Notes & Highlights:
The first 10 pitches that Jason Bergmann threw tonight were excellent. He had retired the two first batters of this game from Philadelphia--both on strikeouts. Then, the next three pitches were disasterous. A liner to deep right center by Chase Utley--a baseball that couldn't find Ryan Church's glove on the Warning Track. A stroked hit--that appeared to be catchable. A resulting triple that Washington paid dearly for--when Nats Killer--Ryan Howard--followed and UNLOADED on a drive to right field--well above Our Nationals Bullpen for a quick 2-0 lead in the first. Sudden disappointment that turned into Jason's favor when his teammates rallied in their first two At-Bats. A resulting Quality Start for Our Number 57 that appeared to be a lock for his 6th win (and 4th straight) until those awful 7th and 8th innings.
Ryan Zimmerman got Washington on the board with his 40th double of the season in the bottom of the first. A right centerfield gapper that drove Ronnie Belliard home--all the way from first. Ronnie holding on to his helmet--all the way around the bases--so it would not fall off. "Z" drove in his 89th RBI to make the score 2-1 Philadelphia.
In the bottom of the second--Washington took their commanding 6-2 lead when they batted around. Nine hitters stepped to the plate, three of whom would all double into the gap against Kyle Lohse. Brian Schneider, Belliard and Ryan Church would all slam RBI two base hits--sandwiched between a Robert Fick single, FLop walk and Wily Mo Pena--hit by pitch. Ronnie knocking in his 53 & 54th runs of the season--My Main Man!! getting his 63rd & 64th. An effort that shut down the sound from the many Philadelphia Fans in attendance--while waking up the out shouted Washington faithful in the announced crowd of 19,966--at least for a while.
In the top of the 4th--The Phillies Greg Dobbs lofted a quickly falling foul ball just over the railing of the Nationals Dugout. Without hesitation--Ryan Zimmerman ran hard to the barrier--without regard to safety--reached over and grabbed the baseball in his outstretched glove. Another quality play for Our Number 11 and The Defensive Play of This Game. It never gets old to state--Ryan Zimmerman runs down foul flys better than ANYONE in the game--who plays third base. No one is close.
At the plate--My Main Man!! was hot tonight. I understand--due to Our Bullpen blowing up tonight--the game was now tied late at 6-6. Yet, when Ryan Church walked with one out in the bottom of the 7th--was it really necessary to play for that ONE RUN. And, pinch run for him with Nook Logan? Dmitri Young is still out--recovering from his neck soreness--from being hit by a baseball in the head. Yes, Logan can steal you that base--which he eventually did. But, there is still plenty of baseball to play against one of the better hitting lineups in The National League. Washington is already shorthanded. Why just play for one run? Of course--Austin Kearns would walk. Then, Tony Batista pinch hit for Robert Fick--AND HIT INTO A RALLY KILLING 5-4-3, Around The Horn, Double Play.
Speaking of Logan--his pinch running appearance for Church was quite entertaining. Philadelphia was flat out AFRAID of his speed. Five Times, The Phillies Pitcher Clay Condrey threw over to first base--5 separate times--to keep Nook close. And, a sixth time--with a pitchout--believing Our Number 7 was stealing. The Entire Crowd began to boo. Even The Phillies Fans wanted to get this game moving again. Eventually, it did.
To The P.A. Operators tonight--Huge Credit for NOT PLAYING "Eye of The Tiger" (A Rocky Theme Song) when Luis Ayala entered in the game changing 7th.
When Werth hit his Home Run into the Upper Deck tonight--it quickly reminded me of something I will miss at RFK Stadium. The Site of Baseballs Landing in the outer reaches and the marking of those smashes by the section numbers. Really, I love that aspect of The Old Ballyard. When someone tells you Section 447--you know where that is. The Section Numbers provide an historical perspective to gauge longer and longest Home Runs witnessed. Confirmations that might not be as easy to figure at New Nationals Park.
Teddy!! lost again this evening. He was kicked in the rear end by Abe as Lincoln scooted past him during the 4th inning President's Race. Of course when The Lovable Loser posted up in Section 320 before the 7th inning stretch to feel the Love of the "Let Teddy Win!" chant--I told Roosevelt--we all better see The Bang!! Zoom!! of The Fireworks!!--if Teddy Wins as so many are anticipating come September 23rd--THE FINAL GAME EVER AT RFK Stadium. After such an incredible losing streak--if Teddy does come out victorious on that last afternoon--there better be a celebration. A party to commemorate the moment.
Finally--there was some serious security action in Section 320 tonight. Apparently, a handful of teenagers--wearing Phillies Gear were underage drinkers. In three years of Nationals Baseball at RFK--We don't ever recall ANYONE being tossed from a game due to this action. Two attendees were tossed tonight--and all their friends accompanied them out of The Old Ballyard. Sohna and I found it a good thing--but wondered--at the same time--why not the crackdown earlier? This type of behavior has gone on for some time.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Gerald Herbert