Saturday, April 26, 2008
Over Early--Like Really EARLY
Although Sohna and I never leave ANY GAME early--tonight's was mighty tempting. Just six batters into this game--The Chicago Cubs were leading 3-0. 12 Chicago hitters into the affair--the score was 5-0. Our Starter--Matt Chico more resembled last year's "Starter In Training.'' He wasn't fooling anyone. In fact--Our Number 47 looked frustrated, confused and downright agitated at his work on the mound. Did he ever have NOTHING. An effort that put Our Washington Nationals down inside a big sinkhole. An opened crevasse they had little chance to recover from tonight.
Because as badly as Matt Chico pitched this evening--The Chicago Cubs Starter--Carlos Zambrano--was sharp. Zambrano has terrific stuff--but at times--he can't control where he's throwing the baseball. This evening at New Nationals Park--Their Number 38 was on his game. Seven Shutout innings against a Washington Offense that could muster little firepower against his arsenal. In fact, you got to appreciate a competitor like Carlos Zambrano. Twice tonight--with two outs in an inning--he walked Wily Mo Pena on a full count. Since Wily Mo was batting in the 8th spot--most pitchers would not fret about it-as Our Washington Nationals pitcher was the next scheduled batter. Yet, Zambrano--pissed at himself for walking Pena--each time--frustratingly taunted himself by retrieving the baseball from his catcher--Geovany Soto. The man was pitching a shutout, was going to to get a win--most likely guaranteed--but he still cared about his performance. I LOVE THAT!! I really do.
This ball game was out of hand early--and when "The Human Rain Delay" entered in the top of the 8th--it was OFFICIALLY OVER. Jesus Colome giving up two additional runs in another poor outing. Sorry--but Our Number 43 continues to provide little help on the mound.
Game Number 25 was simply one of those games you lose. Our Washington Nationals had ZERO chance of winning this evening before a rousing Chicago Cubs Faithful Crowd of 35,188.
Game Notes & Highlights.
As much as I personally like Matt Chico--how much longer can Our Washington Nationals keep him on the roster? He's is not making consistent strides of improvement. Tonight's effort showed a talented young man--still looking to find his way. 85 tosses in four innings comes from someone that can not command his pitches. Will Our Number 47 be sent down? Sent to The Bullpen? Will Collin Balester get his opportunity--or Garrett Mock? How about Mike O'Connor? Changes are coming on the mound. Our Washington Nationals have little choice.
Have you noticed the quirky play of any base hit down the leftfield line. Not one time during the first 11 games ever played at New Nationals Park--has a ripped shot into the leftfield corner not scored ANY runner from 1st base. The baseball seems to rattle around in that corner--not coming to a dead stop. Although the RFK Stadium Fences were officially only one foot closer--The South Capitol Street Ballpark plays a whole lot differently. And--the shortstop MUST run down the line to retrieve any baseball that caroms off the field seats--angled toward the pitchers mound. We were wondering tonight whether Johnny Estrada could make that run from 1st to Home on a double down the left field line. The Verdict: It would be close--but Our Number 23 would probably lose.
There was one remarkable inning pitched tonight by a member of Our Washington Nationals. "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" was sent out--in a mop up role--for the top of the 7th inning. Over the course of his 17 pitch inning--Chad Cordero allowed a ground ball single to Mark DeRosa--but struck out both Geovany Soto and Ronny Cedeno--LOOKING--to end the inning. No runs scored. Yet, not one time did the radar gun on the HDTV Scoreboard register a pitch above 81 MPH. That's Incredible?! As we were discussing among our friends in Section 218--What in the world was he throwing? If Our Number 32 is barely reaching 80 on the gun--he must be throwing some wicked stuff. Either Chad Cordero was PITCHING A GREAT INNING--and had GREAT STUFF. Or--The Chicago Cubs Batters didn't believe what The RADAR GUN was saying.
Watching Cordero pitch in that inning was fascinating. Then, when The African Queen and I got home from New Nationals Park--I turned on the DVR's. We had recorded both The MASN BROADCAST and The Chicago Broadcast. On the Chicago Broadcast--their RADAR GUN had 'The Chief' consistently at 88 MPH on his fastball--just short of his efforts over the past three years. Additionally--the Chicago Broadcast had Carlos Zambrano hitting 95 MPH on his fastball. The New Nationals Park Radar Gun rarely had Zambrano above 90.
So--who is right? The Cub Broadcasters said Chad Cordero looked pretty good. Ray Knight on MASN stated--Chad should be sent to the minors. What a contrast. This is one of those times--I would LOVE to ask Our General Manager Jim Bowden, Our Manager Manny Acta and Our Pitching Coach Randy St.Claire--what their opinions are. Two different broadcasts and Stadium Scoreboard--all with different results. And you know--each team has their own RADAR GUN Guy working the game--separate from the scoreboard. This is a good story--any way you look at it. Man--I would LOVE TO KNOW THE TRUTH. This outcome--the most important to take from this bad baseball game.
Lastings Milledge continues to confuse me. The man can get on base. Once he gets there--he has little idea how to run the bases--on his own. This evening--another prime example of his youth and inexperience. After knocking a single--Johnny Estrada stepped to the plate. A wild pitch by Carlos Zambrano allowed Our Number 44 to run to second base. The subsequent throw by The Cubs Catcher--Soto--skipped through to centerfield. Quickly--Chicago's Feliz Pie was on the ball. Everyone in the ballpark--except Milledge--realized Lastings had no chance to advance to third on the bad throw. Milledge got up from his slide at second and ran to third--whereupon Pie easily tossed out Our Number 44 at third base. Aramis Ramirez completing the easy out. No--this mistake made no difference in the game's outcome. But does show--the advances Lastings Milledge must continue to improve on--to become a much better Major League Baseball Player.
There was a WILD MOMENT in the President's Race. Like last night--Teddy was leading all the way. As he approached the Finish Line--destined to win--OFFICIALLY--for the very first time--Out jumped a PANTHER. Yes, it was a PANTHER--not a Cub--to tackle Teddy short of the checkered flag. After knocking The 26th President out of the race--the Panther just as quickly--jumped back into the stands. FANS ACTUALLY BOOED. VERY, VERY ODD.
As for the concessions tonight--Sohna and I enjoyed the "NACHO GRANDE" offered from one of the Portable Set Ups in The Stars & Stripes Club. For $12.50--your choice of Cubed Grilled Flank Steak, Grilled Chicken or Grilled Pork--served over Fresh Black Seeded Corn Chips, with melted cheese and YOUR CHOICE any of one to 12 toppings. If you wanted all 12--so be it. Those toppings included Jalapeno Peppers, Olives, Grated Cheddar, Guacamole, Sour Cream, Mango Salsa, Refried Beans and Sweet Corn--among others. A good size serving FOR TWO--including Curly "W" Cookies for dessert. For the price--The BEST DEAL IN THE BALLPARK--so far--if you like this sort of stuff.
We liked it so much--when Michael Snead--The Executive Chef for New Nationals Park came by us--working another issue--we stopped him and personally mentioned how much we enjoyed this serving. Knowing how many hours this man has worked since early March--getting the food services up and running on South Capitol Street-Sohna and I were very pleased to bring a smile to his face.
A grin that one of our Section 218 Seatmates DID NOT receive at The Ben's Chili Bowl Portable Set Up in The Stars & Stripes Club Tonight. We now know so many Jim's in Club Level--we are going to have to find different user names for all of them. In this particular case--Jim (always with his wife Kay) arrived at The Ben's Stand at approximately 6PM--70 Minutes before game time. He wanted to order a Half-Smoke with the fixings. And was rudely told: "WE ARE NOT READY YET--COME BACK LATER." Now the gates have been fully opened for 20 minutes at that point. No food ready. Yet--as Jim told Sohna and I: "Her attitude was--'I don't care if we EVER OPEN UP.' How Nice Is That??" Jim was pissed. Rightfully so.
Finally--not two minutes after the conclusion of this terrible baseball game--the skies opened up and IT POURED!! By the time The African Queen and I made the walk down toward the centerfield gate--you would have believed Our Washington Nationals & Chicago Cubs game would have been rained out--if this has began--three hours earlier. I guess even "The Human Rain Delay" couldn't help us out--either--on that level tonight.
At least it's baseball-there is a NEW GAME TOMORROW. Our Washington Nationals can still win this series.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Pablo Martinez Monsivais