Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Fresh off a 9 Day Road Trip--Our Washington Nationals returned home this evening to begin an 11 game homestand.
Fresh off a 10 Day Out of Country Experience--I returned home--just in time this evening--to watch them play.
And fresh off about 11 Weeks as New Members of The New York Mets--Brian Schneider and Ryan Church returned to their former home to play their former team in Washington--for the very first time.
All three circumstances--Homecomings of sort--usually always fun times.
But--Only "The Captain" and "My Main Man!!" went home happy after this one.
Simply because--Johan Santana plays for The Mets--and Our Washington Nationals continue to beat themselves.
Sohna saying during tonight's decisive 6th inning: "The whole time you were away, they would find a way to lose by making simple mistakes." And did Washington ever continue that approach in this affair.
With New York's Carlos Beltran on first base with a lead off single. A base hit that knocked Tim Redding from this close 2-2 ball game. All fell apart--again-- with some terrible fielding. None worse than when Ryan Zimmerman charged in on a dribbler hit by Our Former Number 19 off Ray King--a slow hopper that jutted away to "Z's" left at the very last moment. A movement that found Ryan stretching, retrieving and nearly throwing sideways and backwards at the same time. A rushed throw that flew well over Nick Johnson's head at first base and down the right field line. A scored base hit and throwing error--allowing Beltran to run all the way around the bases for the go ahead run. A poor defensive decision--where Ryan should have just ate the ball. Runners on first and second with no outs--far preferable than one run in and another runner standing on third.
A mistake that changed the outcome of this game--as just one out later--with Church still on 3rd--New York's Angel Pagan would smack ANOTHER Dribbler, this time down the first base line--a meekly hit ball that Ray King picked up and promptly threw right in the dirt to first base--a baseball that Nick Johnson again had virtually ZERO CHANCE of catching. An almost laughable play--allowing Ryan Church to score The Met's 4th run and even more so--generously scored a BASE HIT by The Official Scorer.
An RBI Single for Pagan--who then produced a Homecoming all his own--when he promptly stole 2nd base and 3rd base off King and Wil Nieves--then scored New York's third run of this most important of frames--on a ground out to FLop at second by Brian Schneider. Welcome Home!!--as they say when you enter New Nationals Park. Well--The New York Mets said "Thank You" this evening.
What just moments before was shaping up as a good match up between one of the finest pitchers in the game--Santana--against Our Best Starting Pitcher so far in 2008--was quickly over. Not only was Tim Redding out of this game--but eventually saddled with the loss. All on an evening not one single run scored on him--came on a clean base hit out of the infield.
A final 7-2 loss. A Homecoming Parade that found New Nationals Park clearly hearing that ugly chant: "Let's Go Mets!! Let's Go Mets!!"
Game Notes & Highlights:
Tim Redding did walk three tonight and allowed four hits. One to Johan Santana. A stroked double well over the drawn in outfield to the centerfield wall in the third. A mistake pitch that Johan returned favor in the bottom of the 4th when he allowed Our Number 17 to slam a two out double--also to the centerfield wall. A Two RBI HIT for Redding that briefly gave Washington its only lead tonight. Tim wasn't bad--but he wasn't great. And when your offensive is not helping--he had little chance of winning tonight.
Johan Santana is always fun to watch. Consistently in the low 90's with his fastball--he held Zimmerman, Johnson, Austin Kearns and Lastings Milledge--the heart of the order--hitless tonight. Outside of Redding's double--just six singles by Washington--two each from "The Guz", Nieves and Wily Mo Pena. Nothing manufactured tonight on the bases. Santana mostly shutting down the offense--with baserunners forcing him from the stretch.
What is world was Jesus Colome doing in the 9th inning? Called up for Mop Up Duty--The "Human Rain Delay" labored through 31 pitches. Does anyone look more uncomfortable out on the mound than Our Number 43? An eight pitch at-bat to David Wright--leading to a leadoff walk. A nine pitch at-bat to Carlos Beltran. Interesting only that Beltran twice walloped two of Jesus' pitches down the right field line--one just foul over the fence. The other--just foul--down the right field line. Strikes that found Colome standing off the mound--hands on hips--showing frustration. Jesus Colome looked baffled all inning long. A poor frame that--not only found Our Pitching Coach Randy St.Claire making a visit to the mound--but Ryan Church taking him to the wall for a two run single. The final two tallies of this game.
As clearly of an excellent pitcher that Jesus Colome was before his Disabled List appearance and subsequent surgery for an infection last year-Our Number 43 has never been the same pitcher since. He shows little confidence now--no trusting of his stuff.
And since I am on a roll (I am guessing no sleep for 48 hours getting back to DC has me going)--Lastings Milledge continues to play a below average centerfield. Our Number 44 did not make a error tonight--but he badly played a one hopper sharply hit by Schneiderman in the top of the 8th. A no chance catch where he should have let the baseball just fall in front--instead indecisiveness led Milledge to overplay the baseball--deflecting it away to his left. No runs eventually scored--but Lastings needs to improve on his routes to hit baseballs. He is not smooth.
Despite the hearing of "Let's Go Mets!!"--a good turnout of 32,780 on a nice evening--weatherwise--at New Nationals Park.
Arriving at 4PM Eastern Time--Sohna met me at the airport and we directly drove to the ballpark. And tonight--we tested out Cantina Marina. The Gumbo for $8--Good Serving Portion--Hot, Flavorful and it was good. One of my favorites so far in our slow journey around Food Choices on South Capital Street. Also--we tried their Spicy Cajun Corn Dog. Not something we would normally eat and we were not expecting anything special. But the spices made the item appealing. For $5--a far better deal than your basic hot dog. Even The African Queen agreed--Cantina Marina was a good choice tonight.
Sohna again ordered her Five Guys Cheeseburger. Five Guys & Cantina Marina are located right next to each other behind Section 240. The Burger was excellent--as before. But, she was disappointed that in order to speed up the line--Five Guys has decided to cook and bag French Fries and Dispense Drinks well in advance of your order. Subsequently--the fries were cold. We understand its a work in progress. Hopefully--this can be worked out.
In The Stars & Stripes Club--Ben's Chili Bowl now has it's very own Portable Stand set up on the third base side--near The Nats Bar. Also line control stanchions are now in place throughout all The Club Level Concessions. At least for tonight--it was far easier to move about The Stars & Stripes Club throughout the game--without being stopped by patrons waiting in a food line.
Finally--before tonight's game--Sohna and I were standing down near the field chatting with Richard--one of our favorite ushers. While talking--Brian Schneider happened to come our way. Without hesitation--he walked over and greeted both The African Queen and I. We were very proud he made the effort to reach out--and we asked him how his wife--Jordan and Baby Tatum we doing. Happily he answered--very well. Brian Schneider was pleased to be asked about his family. There is no question that Sohna and I enjoyed his time playing for Our Washington Nationals. And one of his best traits we always enjoyed about Our Number 23--was how well grounded he always appeared. He seemingly cared about Washington and Our Fans--and showed up at virtually every single team event. We will always remember him for that.
Tonight's InGame Photo--(AP) Pablo Martinez Monsivais