Saturday, September 29, 2007
Saving Your Best For Last
Enjoyable is the best description for this afternoon's game between Our Washington Nationals and The Philadelphia Phillies.
Two Teams that continue to play exciting game, after thrilling game. What a rivalry this is becoming!! Before you know it--Washington & Philadelphia will be a well anticipated match up. Most likely never coming close to reaching Yankees/Red Sox or Dodgers/Giants status--stuff like that takes nearly one hundred years to develop. But, certainly a battle that fans from each representative city can look forward to. Antagonists, that makes each subsequent match up coveted.
Today was no exception.
The Phillies needed just ONE win to be GUARANTEED a tie for The National League East Title. Washington did not roll over.
"Our Starter In Training" pitched arguably his finest game as a Major Leaguer. Matt Chico saved his BEST STUFF for his last start.
In a Playoff Atmosphere--Our Washington Nationals manufactured two runs, then took advantage of two Philadelphia Errors to score two more. Post Season Games are most always--closely fought. Washington displayed resiliency this afternoon--the ability to compete under pressure.
And, when it appeared The Phillies were prime for their Comeback--Big Jon Rauch was called on to Slow THIS GAME DOWN. A most effective outing that kept this game, not only under control--but out of the hands of the Frantic Phillie Fans. "The Wookie" killing a Philadelphia Rally--that sucked the wind out of, not only The Phillies, but Citizens Bank Park--as well.
Air--that "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" finally extinguished with a ROBUST 1-2-3 9th Inning. Chad Cordero shutting down The Phillies and shutting up their fans. What a joyous site to see Our Washington Nationals celebrate on the very field Philadelphia was ready to coronate their own Tie of a Division Title. New York and Philadelphia--Teams not well liked by Washingtonians--now both suffering because Our Washington Nationals have Saved Their Best For Last!!--Winners of Five of their last Six Ballgames. As enjoyable a 4-2 Victory witnessed all season long. Our Washington Nationals came to play. Once again--never giving up--when most other teams WOULD NOT CARE about Game Number 161.
Curly "W" Number 73 dealt a serious blow to The Philadelphia Phillies; Clinched a 4th Place Finish for Our Washington Nationals. And, continued to prove--that under Our Manager Manny Acta--quitting is never an option.
Our Number 14 for "Manager Of The Year". Honestly--who Deserves It More? Who, accomplished More, with Less? Like--NO ONE. Manny Acta is The Manager Of The Year--whether The Baseball Writers wish to give him the Hardware, or not. What A Year for Our Rookie Leader!!
Game Notes & Highlights:
Matt Chico deftly worked his way through the minefield that is a Powerful Phillies Lineup. Our Number 47 wiggled out of trouble in giving up 4 hits and three walks in 6 Plus Innings. Only a Towering Home Run given up to Aaron Rowand leading off the 7th blemished his day. But, most importantly--he didn't lose his resolve. At 23 Years of Age--Matt Chico has alot still to learn, but he has established himself as a viable Major League Pitcher in 2007. Chico's 7th Victory of the season also kept him from earning the dubious distinction of being the only Pitcher for Our Washington Nationals to lose 10 Games over the past six months. A record surely, he did not want to establish.
After "Our Starter In Training" was relieved by Saul Rivera in the 7th--it well appeared The Phillies were going to rally. Down 4-1, Our Number 56 came on and wasn't really fooling anybody. A seven pitch At-Bat to Jayson Werth eventually lead to a fly out to center for out number one. But, a 9 pitch At-Bat to Greg Dobbs and walk, set the table for a big inning. Especially when Carlos Ruiz followed with a clean single to left--moving Dobbs to second. Rivera was rushing his tosses. In doing so--he was not only losing his command--but losing control of this ballgame--quickly.
With the Rally Towels being circled throughout Citizens Bank Park, The Phillie Fanatics were on their feet, whopping it up. Philadelphia was seeing their chance. And, Our Manager Manny Acta was seeing enough of Rivera. Responding like most Playoff Managers would--he called on Big Jon Rauch--one inning sooner than normal. All Hands On Deck. Manny was playing for keeps. He knew "The Wookie" would be playing for the win.
6'11" is intimidating enough from the mound--but when Our Number 51 is reaching 95 MPH on his Fastball--alarming is the only way to describe him. Big Jon was on his game and quickly got Shane Victorino to pop to Ryan Zimmerman at third--for an automatic infield fly rule out. Then, with EVERYONE at Citizens Bank Park Standing and Roaring "MVP!!, MVP!!" for Jimmy Rollins--"The Wookie" served in a fastball that the speedy Philadelphia Shortstop swung at--only to see the baseball ground right into Robert Fick's chest at first base. A carom that Fick recovered from and threw to Rauch--to Kill The Phillies BIG CHANCE.
Then, Big Jon returned to finish off Philadelphia in the 8th--despite giving up a Home Run to Ryan Howard--making the score 4-2 Washington. Rauch's fine effort clearing the way for Chad Cordero to prove that he is not done--not just yet. Our Number 32 striking out Jayson Werth, getting Greg Dobbs to fly out to Ryan Langerhans and finally ending this affair--when Carlos Ruiz popped a lazy looper to Ronnie Belliard at second base. "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" was anything but, this afternoon. Even, Chad Cordero saved his Best for Last to record his 37th Save of 2007. A Number most everyone believed he had NO CHANCE of reaching at mid-season. Despite his continued tightrope acts--Chad Cordero has actually put together a rather decent--if unspectacular--year. 113 Saves (out of 133 Chances) in Three Seasons of Baseball for Our Washington Nationals--can not be taken lightly.
Our Washington Nationals not only will not finish last in The National League East--they will also not LOSE 90 Games. I understand 88 or 89 loses is nothing to be overly proud of--but its a step in the right direction. If the 2007 Season was about Team Building--then Our Washington Nationals learned how to play exciting baseball. Team Baseball. Yes, overmatched at times--but never outplayed. A Big Difference. Something to build on in the very near future.
During the first Six Innings this afternoon--Sohna and I listened to this game on the Radio with Charlie & Dave--as we ran the weekend errands. Once we returned home--The TV was turned on (But, the Sound Down--not going to listen to Tim McCarver for a second on Fox) while Charlie & Dave are performing their artistry over the airwaves. What I found interesting on Fox was not recalling seeing ONE SINGLE SHOT of a Washington Fan in attendance at Citizens Bank Park. There had to be more than a few Nationals Faithful there. Yet, Fox chose not to show any of them--while The African Queen and I were watching. Interesting.
Finally, being in television as a profession, and very critical of our product--why is it that the Fox Director continually showed one second cutaway shot after cutaway shot between pitches. To me--building false tension--actually kills the nervousness at hand. I find Baseball on TV far more dramatic when the particulars are shown. The Hitter, The Pitcher and The Catcher. Maybe, the lead runner. I don't need to see the 1,000th Fan that day with all their fingers and toes crossed. Just doesn't build excitement for me. In fact, that type of directing--kills the natural drama. Besides--many times late in this game--there were so many cutaway shots--The Director barely got back to the actual pitch in time before the pitcher tossed it. Just Stupid TV. Please, just let the game play out. It was exciting enough--without the false interjections.
73-88 for Our Washington Nationals. No, far from a Championship Team. But, also far from "The Worst Team of All Time."
Today's InGame Photos--(AP) Rusty Kennedy