Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Knock Out Punch
When Jason Bergmann started to lose his control in the top of the fifth inning today--why was no one warming up in Our Washington Nationals Bullpen? Out of nowhere a battle ensued. At the start of this decisive inning--Our Number 57 was cruising along having allowed three hits and no runs--while holding a slim 1-0 lead against The Florida Marlins. Yet--when Jorge Cantu hammered Jason's first pitch of the 5th down the left field line for a Home Run--trouble was brewing. How quickly this ball game fell apart for Washington.
Five of The Marlins next six batters all reached base--four of whom scored. Two Doubles, Two Singles and an Intentional Walk had Bergmann on the ropes. Now staggering--only Florida's Starting Pitcher Scott Olsen was punched out--on a sacrifice bunt. Clearly Jason had lost command and was laying his pitches in over the middle of the plate. Yet not even Our Pitching Coach Randy St.Claire visited the mound to talk with Our Number 57 until Our Washington Nationals were behind 5-1. And only then did Joel Hanrahan even get up to stretch.
Then, for whatever reason--Our Manager Manny Acta decided to keep Jason Bergmann in the game--to face Mike Jacobs--another Nats Killer. Having already taken some serious punches--the worse was yet to come. Now--I don't know the totals--but seemingly since the very first days Jacobs appeared in The Major Leagues with The New York Mets--he has CRUSHED the baseball in Washington, DC. Their Number 17 may be an all or nothing hitter-but against Our Washington Nationals he is All World. A Champion. Time after time--this lefthanded power hitter slugs Home Runs in The Nation's Capital. Tonight that trend continued--deciding this ball game. Mike Jacobs belted a two run homer over the right field wall off Bergmann--The Knock Out Punch. The very first homer at New Nationals Park into Our Washington Nationals Bullpen. Just like that--The Florida Marlins held a commanding 7-1 advantage. A lead that Jacobs finished off with ANOTHER two run smack--his second homer that skimmed over the right field wall off Hanrahan in the 7th inning. What a beating Mike Jacobs put on Washington this evening.
All because when this game was on the line--no counter punches were swung by Our Washington Nationals. They stuck to their game plan--giving The Florida Marlins the technical knockout. A 10-4 bruising at the hands of The Fish.
Game Notes & Highlights
New Nationals Park witnessed a baseball game that through the first four innings--seemed very winnable--just like Jason's last start against Philadelphia. For two consecutive appearances--Our Number 57 has cruised through the early part of each starting assignment. Only to see one inning--ultimately his last innings--be his downfall. Against The Phillies--much of his demise was the pure luck of bloopers and seeing eye hits. Tonight--no such fluke. The Florida Marlins were teeing off on him. Jason should have been taken out of the ball game--far earlier than later.
When the game is taking a drastic turn--you have to make a move. You can't stay pat and hope for the best. Yes, I understand that Jason Bergmann was the scheduled lead off hitter in the bottom of the 5th inning and, possibly, Our Number 14 didn't want to waste a reliever on one hitter--then pinch hit for him. But sometimes you simply have to stop the bleeding. Tonight Our Washington Nationals were beaten and defeated by not realizing the knock out punch was at hand in the top of the fifth inning.
The Marlins tall lanky lefty--Scott Olsen pitched a very fine game. His fielders cost him an early run with two bad errors, and Olsen served up a homer to "The Guz" in the fifth before tiring late--fortunately with a large lead. More importantly he kept the game close for Florida--until his teammates ripped apart Jason Bergmann in the top of the fifth.
In the top of the third inning--Florida's catcher Matt Treanor singled to lead off. But was retired four pitches later when Alfredo Amezaga slapped a sharply hit low liner toward Ronnie Belliard at second base. Moving to his right--Our Number 10 appeared poised for the catch--and Treanor returned to first believing Ronnie would record the out in the air. Instead--"The Ballplayer" seemingly let the fast moving baseball hit the infield dirt--directly in front of this glove. Ronnie Bellliard then shovel scooped to Cristian Guzman for out number one--followed by the relay toss to Nick Johnson at first base for not only The Double Play, but The Defensive Play Of This Game. It was sweet.
Not much offense from Washington tonight. Guzman continues to swing a nice bat. His home run a part of a two hit night. Lastings Milledge laid down a beautiful bunt base hit in the 3rd moving Our Number 15 to second and Lastings to first with nobody out. But, lo and behold--no runs scored--after Ryan Zimmerman hit into a rally killing double play.
Six straight losses and little showing of offensive life of late. Starting Pitching questionable. 153 Games remain--still a long way to go. Who will provide the spark to turn the latest tailspin around?
23,340 tonight's attendance on a nice 65 Degree game time start. Sohna and I witnessed quite a few folks purchasing game tickets from the kiosks directly outside The Centerfield Gate. But the sight of so many empty seats behind home plate is bothering. We are at the game--but those watching at home on TV must think NO ONE is at the park.
Continuing the slow tour of Concessions--this evening Sohna tried The Grilled Chicken Breast Platter in Club Level. For $11, Sandwich with fries and fixings. Excellent--good serving portion and enjoyable meal. Although we continue to be amazed at asking concession employees something about an item on the menu--and they can't tell you ANYTHING about it. Example--at the Dupont Deli down the right field line--second level--I asked three different employees what was included in The Dupont Deli Sub. No response except "I don't know." So--who does and why are they working there? We walked away. Why would we be interested in something if the person making it--has no clue what goes on the sandwich? Honestly, we can't understand that mentality.
And still--Pat's Pizza in Stars & Stripes Club lists a "Speciality" Pizza on their menu. Yet, the item is not available--not one single concession employee knows what it is? Why? Makes no sense to us. Could someone please make a token effort and find out?
Arriving at the ballpark early tonight--I tried out the Sony Playstation MLB Game in the Kids Strike Zone. The likenesses of Our Washington Nationals Players are really good. Driving the Indy Race car was pretty realistic.
Finally--while enjoying a relaxing time in The Nats Bar in The Stars & Stripes Club Level with our friend Jim, Senior Vice-President of Clark Construction--Ronnie Strompf happened to walk by. If you have read the Nats320 Blog for any length of time--you know how many 24/7 days this man put into the construction of New Nationals Park. Ronnie drove the construction crews through the 22 month ordeal. A design and build process that a few years from now--many folks might be calling New Nationals Park--a breakthrough model of building.
After giving up so much of his personal life for Our South Capitol Street Ballpark--Ronnie told Sohna and I tonight that Clark Construction--as a THANK YOU for his efforts--is sending his family on an all expenses paid trip to Italy this summer. Good for him--because Ronnie Strompf EARNED IT--more so than many may ever know.
Ironically--not 20 minutes after Mr. Strompf moved on--Matt Haas, Project Director for Clark Construction also stopped by to say hello in The Nats Bar. Working hand and hand together--Ronnie and Matt lead the building of New Nationals Park. Yes, more work still needs to be done--but they finished in time for Opening Night--2008 to be a success.
Tonight's In Game Photos--(AP) Nick Wass
All other photos--copyright-Nats320