Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Never Ending Affair
"That's not a good sign," said Richard. "Do you have any idea where his car might be parked?" said Tim. Both pissed at what their eyes had told them. So was just about everyone else rooting for Our Washington Nationals, inlcluding me. Ronnie Belliard had just committed an egregious error. With two outs, two strikes to The Florida Marlins Hanley Ramirez--The Reigning NL Rookie of The Year had slapped a foul fly, in play, down the right field line. A sure GAME WINNING OUT. Another Save for "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game". EVERYONE at RFK Stadium was standing--anticipating the ending.
Only to see Ronnie Belliard DROP THE BALL. Our Number 10 attempting an over the shoulder, one handed, football receiver style catch. Sloppy and poorly executed--an error that found those still on hand exasperated in disgust. Upset, because not only was Ramirez still alive--but one of the most interminable affairs of the season was going to last EVEN LONGER. Talk about a never ending game. Honestly--after the third inning, the time was nearly 8:30PM. 19,222 found themselves mesmerized to find themselves barely in to the 6th--just one hour later.
Tonight's ballgame between Our Washington Nationals and The Florida Marlins played out in Slow Motion. An effect that even influenced The Presidents Race. The Mid-Fourth Inning Contest competed with GW, Tom, Abe & Teddy moving at such a pedestrian pace--The PA might as well played the "Chariots Of Fire" theme song. Dawdling is the only way to best describe it. A Film Makers Dream.
Even the start of this evening's match creeped along due to one SERIOUSLY POOR START by The Florida Marlins Sergio Mitre. Mitre DID NOT LAST the very first inning of play. Allowing 4 singles, 2 walks and eventually three runs, before being yanked after 2/3rds of an inning. His quick hook may well have been the only thing speedy about tonight. The Marlins Manager Fredi Gonzalez was so concerned with Sergio's awful start--Gonzalez pulled Mitre in MID-AT Bat to Tim Redding. Our Number 17 ahead 2-0 in the count with the bases loaded. In the nearly three years now of Our Washington Nationals, I don't recall ANY PITCHER for another team not lasting a full inning at The Old Ballyard. Clearly, I recall Frank Robinson pulling John Halama in the 1st in 2005. But, that was Frank. Our Former Number 20 did stuff like that--for effect. Fredi Gonzalez obviously knew Sergio Mitre did not have anything.
Except ANGER after being sent to the Dugout.
As Regular 320 Jim noted, Sergio decided to perform a little surgery on the fan at the far end of the Visitors First Base Dugout. Hammering away on it and attempting to pull the electronic device off its mount. Frustration that found The Electrical Fan Beating him also. Sergio Mitre, not only thumped on the field, but whipped nicely off it as well. Poor Sergio--also losing to an inanimate object. When its NOT YOUR NIGHT--Its Not Your Night.
Being The Pace Setter, Sergio got tonight's game off to such a slow saunter--everyone else followed suit--especially pitchers from both teams. 14 in all--made appearances on the mound. The great majority of them stepping out after one inning or less. Yes, that's right--Step on Up!! You're Next. The Warm Up Pitches Alone must have taken a good 20 minutes of time. Whether it was Matt, Jeff, Hugh or Biff--the number one reaction tonight from Our Friends was "Man--that took forever!!"
A notion sure rammed home when Belliard made his 9th inning blunder. Because, when Chad Cordero has supposedly retired the side and closed out a game--you don't want to give the opposition a second chance. This is "The CHIEF"!! Luck that found all of us in Section 320 nervous. Annoyance that became agitation when Our Closer ended up walking the nearly retired Hanley Ramirez to put runners on 1st and 2nd with two outs in the top of 9th. Oh yeah--the score was just 6-4 Washington. The Powerful Dan Uggla was the next scheduled hitter for Florida. Anyone who attended Opening Day, 2007 will remember Uggla's Titanic Blast into the UPPER DECK--dead centerfield of RFK that afternoon. Clearly, The Marlins Second Baseman provided the go ahead runs.
Scores which Chad Cordero was not going to relinquish. As most always--Chad steps up under pressure. Taking just four pitches--"The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" struck out Uggla swinging on one wicked pitch. HE CHALLENGED HIM. A toss that found Our Number 32 Fist Pumping and Whirling in Celebration. His 31st Save of 2007 found Chad Cordero needing to record 4 Outs to get 3 and put Curly "W" Number 63 for Our Washington Nationals in the books.
The Bang!! Zoom!! of The Fireworks!! that followed signaled a 5 game winning streak. And, the sincere possibility now, that Our Washington Nationals may well win more games in 2007 than 2006's 71 Wins. Come ON!! HONESTLY!! YOU DID NOT EXPECT IT!!! 22 Ball Games remain on the schedule. Hopefully, an 8-14 record can be managed. Anything more would be icing on the cake. That, and the fact that Our Team, never finishing out of last place in The Nation's Capital--is now three games in front of The Marlins and The National League East Cellar. "WORST TEAM OF ALL TIME!!" So, where are those naysayers now? Why are they considered experts?
Total time for this evening's game: Three Hours, Fourteen Minutes. For a while, it felt like an American League Game. One of those Never Ending Affairs. The only thing missing was The Designated Hitter. Over 4 Hours would have been the finish time--if THE DH was used. I CAN'T STAND THE DESIGNATED HITTER. Thank God for National League Baseball--The Only Real Baseball.
Game Notes & Highlights:
Tim Redding was severely injured in the top of the 3rd when he took a hard smash off his pitching elbow. A baseball that was hit so hard by Miguel Cabrera--the imprint of the baseball stitches remained on his skin. As bad as he went down and remained--for some time--X Rays were negative. 7-10 Days was the diagnosis for a right lateral elbow contusion. Upon helped off the field, Tim Redding received one seriously nice ovation from the crowd--walking to The Clubhouse.
An injury that gave Jonathan Abaladejo his very first Major League Appearance. Big Number 53 in your scorecard was as IMPRESSIVE as his size. Inheriting a first and third--one out situation--Abaladejo got Josh Willingham to hit right back to the box. Jonathan whirling for an inning ending double play. His toss slightly off line, but still on the bag. A relay that FLop actually DROPPED. But, Second Base Umpire Mike DiMuro thankfully called a force out. Although Florida scored their second run of the night--Our Number 53 shut down The Marlins rally by getting Mike Jacobs to pop to second base. Then, Abaladejo was LIGHTS OUT in the 4th, striking out Cody Ross, Miguel Olivo and Alejandro DeAza on just 12 pitches. Showing a tight rotation on his slider--Jonathan pitched with the advantage of NO ONE having seen him before. And, left to a Standing Ovation. Really, he was IMPRESSIVE. So, WHO IN WORLD IS HE!!?? Where did he come from?? Are our Scouts really that good to be able to find such YOUNG talent off other team's scrapheaps? Really, that's impressive as well--and should not be understated.
Hard work that Big Jon Rauch also performed in the 8th inning when he also STRUCK OUT THE SIDE. Reaching 95 MPH on the Radar Gun--"The Wookie" was so hot he took down The Heart of The Marlins Order. Miguel Cabrera, Josh Willingham & Mike Jacobs. For his second consecutive appearance--Big Jon strutting off the mound to another Standing Ovation.
Except for Jesus Colome--who surrendered a NO DOUBT Two Run Homer to Miguel Olivo in the 6th. A Liner off The WTOP SIGN above the leftfield bullpen--Our Relievers kept this game in hand. An effort that actually earned Luis Ayala his very first win since August 18th (SBF's Birthday) 2005. How bad would Our Washington Nationals be without their bullpen?
Yeah--there was some scoring tonight. After the three run first due to Sergio Mitre's Implosion--Austin Kearns provided some needed power by launching a Ross Wolf pitch--depositing it off the Green Wall--just to the left of The Toyota Sign in left centerfield. Three hits for Our Number 25 tonight--batting .408 over his last 20 games--being productive too--with three homers, 10 RBI and 15 runs scored. Austin--where have you been all season?
Washington's game winning runs coming across in the 7th--all with two outs. A Kearns single to center, Ryan Church walk--Wily Mo Pena liner to center--scoring Kearns and a Brian Schneider soft fly to right scoring My Main Man!! with the sixth run of the evening.
Ryan Zimmerman continues to make the impossible play look easy. Tonight a swift rally killing beginning of a Double Play off a Cabrera smash in the 5th. A nice diving stop of a Cody Ross grounder to his left in the 6th. But, his finest effort was in the very first inning. No One in This Great Game runs out a foul pop down the third baseline, making the catch--better than "Z". This evening--Jeremy Hermida dropped a fast falling foul above the grounds crew tarp. Two years of experience tells me Ryan makes that play--as long as he gets to it. Which he did--cleanly--catching the baseball, avoiding running into the stands and making The Defensive Play of This Game. Man--that boy is something else as a fielder. Ryan Zimmerman is worth the price of admission--even on the days he doesn't do much at the plate. MVP CANDIDATE for years to come.
By the way--either the handles are so thin on baseball bats these days--they just break all the time. Or, the quality just is not as good as before. Just about every single game--we see 4-5 baseball bats being broken. Yeah, pitchers pitch inside, but they have done this over the entire history of the game. Now--not one game ever goes by--where a player is put in harms way by a splintered bat. Is there a better way? One day soon--a player is going to get a broken sharp wood piece in their neck, eye or stomach. Its bound to happen. More Sooner, than later.
Many thanks to Dave from Chapel Hill, North Carolina--the home of My Brother Milton. Dave was attending tonight's ball game at RFK Stadium and made the nice gesture to stop by Section 320 and say hello. Really, it was touching--and appreciated. Very nice to know that many appreciate the efforts. Only Sohna really knows how many hours I spend working on The Nats320 Blog. Thank you--Dave.
Finally--The Highlight of this evening. While The African Queen and I were leaving RFK walking toward Lot 8 with Biff & Iris--we came across these Four Limos and One Towncar parked--engines running--ready to go in Lot 5 (just across from Gate A). On a Wednesday Night with a small crowd--playing The Marlins--Very Odd. So, Sohna went up to one of the Drivers and asked. A STUNNING RESPONSE was heard. The Limo Driver told her--"We are all here to drive some of The Florida Marlins Players to Philadelphia (their next series)." Not 10 seconds later--one of the CSC Security Guys yelled out to the Drivers--"Who's here for Armando Benitez?" His Driver moved his car over to the team parking lot. I will have to check on this--but I am pretty sure Our Washington Nationals do not allow individual players, or groups of players to take their own transportation to the next city. One of the reasons Our Team is tight, has alot to do with camaraderie built by staying together. The Florida Marlins are a losing club--and obviously--a team of individuals. How else can you explain 5 limos--while two team buses wait to make a 2 1/2 hour trip to Philadelphia. Sohna, having not seen this before--was totally taken back. "They don't deserve it," she stated. "That's why they are no good."
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Nick Wass