Monday, April 07, 2008
You can bang out all the hits you want--but if you can't get your runners home--you are just beating yourself.
You are also beating yourself when your Centerfielder, Lastings Milledge, muffs a routine fly ball in the very first inning and allows the speedy Hanley Ramirez to score all the way from second base.
Ditto when "The Guz", comes charging in on a grounder with a runner on first in the third inning and rightly decides to throw the baseball to first base-- but in the dirt--for an error.
A blunder that proved extremely costly when your Starting Pitcher, Tim Redding, follows that gaffe and beats himself by giving up a two strike, two out looping double down the right field line to set off a five run Florida rally. A mistake pitch to the light hitting Alfredo Amezega that defined tonight's ballgame.
A set up because just two batters later, when Our Number 17 should have been out of this inning scoreless--Hanley Ramirez made Tim pay for his previous poor pitch execution by walloping a Redding offering well over the left field wall. The First Home Run into the leftfield bleachers on South Capitol Street. A decisive three run shot that placed a five spot on the board in the top half of the third inning for Florida.
A 7-3 lead that found Our Washington Nationals playing from behind most all night long. A deficit they never fully recovered from--losing to The Florida Marlins 10-7 at chilling, and quiet New Nationals Park. Official Game Number Two in the new ballpark's history will go down as a forgettable affair. Just 20,487 the Official Attendance Tally--probably even a few thousand less.
At times there was some ugly baseball this evening.
Washington beat themselves because they could not score in the clutch despite knocking 11 hits and receiving 7 walks. Even a prime chance in the 8th was wasted when Washington loaded up the bases with one out--and couldn't score even one run. 11 runners left on base by Washington in this game.
And Our Washington Nationals beat themselves tonight because every defensive error was costly. You just can't give up extra outs and expect to win. Over the first week of the 2008 campaign--these are signs worth worrying over. Those concerns along with a once excellent bullpen struggling, as Our Manager Manny Acta juggles his relievers in different roles with Chad Cordero on the Disabled List.
A fifth consecutive loss, all frustrating defeats, because deep down--each and every one of those setbacks was winnable. Yet, Our Washington Nationals couldn't pull them out--knowing they are continuing to beat themselves.
Game Notes & Highlights:
Its hard to believe that Tim Redding left tonight's game with just one earned run against him. At times--The Marlins were hitting him all over the yard. 7 Hits and 2 Walks over four innings was not an impressive sight, yet--if Washington's Defense had held up, it was conceivable Our Number 17 could have lasted longer into the night. Incredible actually.
The highly touted Florida Pitcher Andrew Miller got rocked tonight also. The Former University of North Carolina top prospect didn't look anything like the pitcher the talent scouts are raving about. Tall, lanky and lefthanded--Our Washington Nationals didn't let up on him. He wasn't fooling anybody--8 hits, 1 walk and 6 runs scored off him in less than four innings work. Considering how well The Marlin's Bullpen performed (5 2/3rd innings of 1 run ball) after their Manager Freddi Gonzalez pulled Miller--you had to wonder why The Florida Manager left Andrew on the mound for such a extended period--knowing Miller didn't have anything.
During the first eight games of the season--Cristian Guzman appears to want to make sure Nick Johnson really is healthy and can stretch every which way possible for his throws. Because Our Number 15 is making him scoop, dive and jab, seemingly, for every single throw from his shortstop position. Some of "The Guz's" throws have been so weak--you have to wonder whether he has a shoulder problem. Having not yet seen Guzman backhand and toss one to first from deep in the hole--its hard to tell for sure. Really, his throws have little zip.
But "The Guz" did tear up at the plate tonight. 2 triples--as he continues to run the bases as well as any player on Our Team. Cristian with three total hits, 2 runs scored and 3 runs batted in. Only his throwing error ruined a fine game.
A lapse by Lastings Milledge that also took away from his fine night at the plate. A two run double and a sacrifice fly scored three runs for Our Washington Nationals off Our Number 44's bat. But--his opening inning outfield blunder--stood out tonight and got this ballgame off to a bad start. Having only seen Milledge play a few times--his outfield skills don't seem fluid. He circles to fly balls and doesn't appear overly confident. Yeah, it's a new ballpark and everyone's getting use to it--on the fly--but that's the impression I have received while watching him play centerfield.
After Cristian Guzman made his throwing error and before Amezaga stroked his double down the right field line--Florida's Matt Treanor slapped a slow roller just inside the third base line. Running hard on the hit was The Marlins Josh Willingham from third base--attempting to score--but Ryan Zimmerman had other ideas. Charging hard and fielding the baseball barehanded, Our Number 11 picked and threw home to Paul LoDuca in one motion. A Perfect throw that beat the sliding Willingham easily. Home Plate Umpire Adrian Johnson with the punch out call. LoDuca with the nice punch of Zimmerman's glove in appreciation of The Defensive Play of This Game. Later in the 5th--The Marlins Jorge Cantu would RIP a hard grounder appearing to be headed into the left field corner--again "Z" with a terrific backhand stab and toss to first for the out. Fielding to either side or charging on the grass--NO ONE makes those plays better and makes them look easier than Ryan Zimmerman.
For the fourth time out of their last five games--Our Washington Nationals have banged out at least 10 hits and didn't win. Although Nick Johnson knocked a late double to right centerfield--his stroked hit was the only one from the middle of Washington's Lineup. Zimmerman, NJ & Austin Kearns a combined 1-11 tonight with four walks. How badly does this team miss Wily Mo Pena? Our Team needs some punch from the left field position. Right now--they are getting none.
In fact--Our Manager Manny Acta used his entire bench tonight. With Dmitri Young still out with a back problem--only Jesus Flores was available to pinch hit after the 7th inning. Our Number 14 had used Willie Harris, Aaron Boone and Rob Mackowiak earlier in the game.
The Florida Marlins banged out three Homers tonight. Hanley Ramirez's shot to left in the third. Dan Uggla's blast to the Red Seats in left-center off Chris Schroder--in the sixth and Robert Ardino's no doubt two run blast to left off Big Jon Rauch in the 9th. The final Home Run of the evening that put this game out of reach. All five home runs so far at New Nationals Park got out quickly. Is this new ballpark becoming a Launching Pad?
In our slow attempt to try the various food options at New Nationals Park--this evening Sohna and I purchased the Chicken Tenders Basket with Fries from The Anacostia Station Grill in The Stars & Stripes Club. For $9.50, we received three small chicken fingers with a handful of potatoes. Simply zero value for the price. At Pat's Pizza in Stars & Stripes--Sohna was interested and asked about the "Specialty" Pizza on the menu. In response--The African Queen received a blank stare, then "Ask her," pointing to another employee. This second employee states "Oh, we don't have that." Sohna says: "But what is it?"
Response--"We don't have that. We only have cheese and pepperoni." They had no idea what the "Specialty Pizza" was on their own menu. Great--thanks for being helpful.
Finally, The Nats Express Service again worked tonight for us without a glitch. But, be aware that for Wednesday Nights game--DC United is also scheduled to play at RFK Stadium. While boarding the Motorcoach to travel to New Nationals Park tonight from Lot 8--The African Queen and I were handed a special flyer noting that NO NATS EXPRESS Service will operate from Lot 8 on Wednesday Night as DC United Fans will pay to park there. Instead--Fans of Our Washington Nationals are asked to drive over to Lot 7 at RFK and enter from The Whitney Young Bridge (East Capitol Street) or Oklahoma Avenue. There will be NO ACCESS for Nats Fans through Lot 8 to reach Lot 7. Plan accordingly.
Tonight's InGame Photo--(AP) Kevin Wolf
PS--Two New Programs Tonight:
The Large Version "Official Magazine of The Washington Nationals"--Volume 4, Issue 2 with Lasting Milledge, Paul LoDuca and Aaron Boone on the cover. $5
and my new favorite:
Nationals Inside Pitch, Volume 1, Issue 2. The slick, glossy 32 page mini-program with scorecard insert. This second issue covering this week's two series with The Florida Marlins and The Atlanta Braves. Lastings Milledge on the cover. You can't beat it--and it's Free--to anyone as they enter the gates at New Nationals Park.