Wednesday, September 05, 2007
2,400 Fans--if that many--were dancing in the aisles of RFK Stadium. Wily Mo Pena, Ryan Langerhans & Ryan Church were Chest Bumping at Home Plate in Jubilation. The Remainder of Our Washington Nationals were attempting to tackle and mob TONIGHT's HERO--Jesus Flores. For the fifth time in 2007--Our Rule V Draftee had just knocked a Game Winning Hit!! This time, a TWO OUT-Bottom of the 9th--lashed shot down the left line against The Florida Marlins. A Two Run Double into the corner scoring Langerhans from third base to tie this ballgame. Wily Mo Pena hustling hard from first--Motoring ALL THE WAY.
There was NO STOPPING OUR ONE TIME NUMBER 16, Now Number 26--Scoring Tonight's Winning Run, the only thing on his mind. A sharp turn around third--barreling toward home. Waved on, by not only Third Base Coach Tim Tolman, but just about EVERY SINGLE PERSON watching at The Old Ballyard. For this moment, EVERYONE WAS A THIRD BASE COACH!! What few were in attendance were screaming--"COME ON!!! COME ON!! GO!! GO!!". Encouragement that Wily Mo possibly did not need--but Thanked Everyone by sliding across home in style--Slapping Down His Left Hand on the plate with the GAMER WINNER!!
A Safe Signal by Home Plate Umpire Bill Welke, that SET OFF not only The Bang!! Zoom!! of The Fireworks--but a CELEBRATION of JOY like none in some time. The African Queen, Scott, John, MickNats, Andy, Erin & I High Fiving so hard--seriously--I thought I dislocated one of my fingers. This was A THRILLER. One of those games between teams going nowhere--you always remember. The Sight Of Our ENTIRE TEAM RUSHING OUT TO THE FIELD TO CELEBRATE--always refreshing. A totally unexpected COME FROM BEHIND VICTORY by Our Washington Nationals, on the heals of Our Ever Improving Rookie Catcher. Who says Jesus Flores DOES NOT BELONG IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES-NOW!!?? Yeah, he misplayed two foul pops for errors tonight--but no one can say he didn't make up for his mistakes.
A turnabout 9th inning that got started when Dmitri Young led off the rally with a full count walk off The Marlins' Closer Kevin Gregg (Langerhans immediately sent in to run for Dmitri). Trailing 3-2, this bounce back took a turn for the worse, when Austin Kearns stuck out BADLY on a pitch well over his shoulders. A High Fastball where he never seems to hold back his bat. A Disgusted Look on his face as he dejectedly walked to the bench. A worry for Our Faithful, when Wily Mo followed and began swinging at everything--after getting ahead in the count on Gregg at 2-0.
Missing two straight off speed pitches by such a wide margin--it appeared only a very brief period of time--before Pena would go down on strikes also. A scenario he surprised just about everyone with--when Our Number 26 took ball three--and on a Full Count, was able to push Gregg's next offering to the hole in rightfield--JUST PAST--a diving Alfredo Amezega at second base. A Rally Saving Single that sent Langerhans quickly to third with the game tying run--and sent those still on hand--into a frenzy. There may not be too many in attendance--but was it EVER LOUD!!
Could Our Washington Nationals possibly do it? Ronnie Belliard was next. And, just when you thought this late inning--last ditch effort to win, was possible--Belliard attempted to execute an unusual maneuver. And FAILED HORRIBLY. With both Langerhans and Pena not running--Ronnie squared around late in a delivery from Gregg and bunted a high pitch RIGHT UP IN THE AIR, that The Marlins First Baseman Jason Wood caught easily. A Crucial Second Out. A wasted At-Bat. A decision that must have been of his own doing. Poor judgment that had Our Fanbase shrieking in anger!! Hands of disgust thrown up throughout the ballpark. No runners were moving. Everyone appeared off guard--Even Florida must have been thanking Ronnie. This bottom of the 9th surge was quickly losing steam.
An attack that re-intensified when Jesus Flores stepped to the plate with the final out at hand. All season long--Our Number 3 has rarely looked overmatched. All season long--Jesus have never appeared out of place. From Day One of Spring Training--he has impressed. When Flores smacked Kevin Gregg's last offering of this ball game down the left field line into the corner scoring The Game Winners--JESUS HAD NOT ONLY SAVED!! But, was "OFFICIALLY" Born A Major League Catcher and Hitter. At a time of need--Our Manager Manny Acta DID NOT PINCH HIT for Our Number 3. No Ryan Church, Brian Schneider, or anyone else off the bench--for that matter. Manny TRUSTED JESUS FLORES!! That's making a statement.
And to think--My Boy!! Jorge Julio--was nowhere to be found. He had nothing to do with this blown save. Of course--now playing for Colorado.
There is nothing finer than a last second--come from behind victory. There is nothing finer that seeing Our Entire Team exulting on the field. There is nothing finer than seeing spectators rejoicing in triumph. And, nothing finer than witnessing a Young Baseball Player trusting his talents, his abilities and succeeding.
Welcome to The Big Leagues--Jesus Flores!!
Curly "W" Number 62 is a game not to forgotten for some time. The Perfect Explanation why--The African Queen and I attend virtually every single Home Game of Our Washington Nationals. Never, do we EVER want to miss out on such Euphoria.
Game Notes & Highlights:
Shawn Hill lasted until one out in the 7th. His sinker wasn't sharp. His command less. But, becoming a wily young veteran he was deftly able to cut his losses. Yeah, he stumbled, but he didn't walk anybody. He survived. Mostly, when it counted--Our Number 41 tight walked himself out of jam after jam. Hard to believe, he actually only gave up three runs.
Another Solid Bullpen Effort tonight for Our Washington Nationals. Arnie Munoz made his Nationals Debut tonight by relieving Hill. Brought in as the situational lefty (Ray King's role before being traded today to Milwaukee)--Our New Number 49 responded by getting Jeremy Hermida to fly out to left field. Then, Winston Abreu followed and retired Florida Slugger Miguel Cabrera. Luis Ayala in the 8th and Chris Schroder (Recipient of his 2nd Win) pitched the 9th. All scoreless.
The Florida Marlins turned three swift double plays tonight. Their catcher Miguel Olivio, even picked Ronnie Belliard off first base with a TERRIFIC THROW from behind the plate in the 4th. But, nothing beat Florida's Cody Ross diving on an Austin Kearns looping liner to right center--also in the 4th. The Marlins' left handed centerfielder diving at the last moment--fully stretched out so far it appeared that he may have separated his right shoulder from the impact. A jarring collision with the ground that found Their Number 12 still holding on to the baseball for The Defensive Play of This Game. Ross received a very nice ovation from the crowd.
Cheers which The Marlins' Dontrelle Willis also received upon departing in the 8th. A Fine Pitcher and Decent Person--Willis is having a difficult season. Only 1 win in his last 18 starts. An 8-14 Record-so far. But, that didn't affect Our Washington Fans support for one of Baseball's Better People. You could tell--he appreciated the applause given at RFK Stadium this evening as he exited after pitching well--giving up just two runs--and playing with that exciting energy he always brings to the field. Passion for the game that you just have to love. Dontrelle, with cap and glove in hand--nodded in thanks to the cheers.
Finally--sorry for the short post. I must be up at 4AM and on site at 5 AM for a special TV Assignment tomorrow. So, even though I have plenty more to write about---this post will have to come to an end.
Not that I will be able to sleep much after tonight's exciter. Wow!! What A Victory. What Fun To Enjoy In Person!! Although, not many made the effort to attend. The smallest crowd since the return of baseball to Washington. 15,611 was the Announced Number. Never more than 5,000--possibly 6,000. At least everyone who was there--was into the game.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Pablo Martinez Monsivais