Thursday, May 01, 2008
Nothing Like It
And down the stretch Cristian Guzman ran!! Our Number 15 had just rounded third--heading toward home with the potential go ahead run. The Entire Crowd rising in unison--everyone realizing a close play was coming to the plate. Austin Kearns had just RIPPED The Pittsburgh Pirates John Grabow's very first pitch to right field on a line. A drive that Pittsburgh's Xavier Nady quickly picked up--positioning himself for the throw to Ryan Doumit--his catcher.
The score was currently tied at two--Our Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates were playing a closely fought game. And this was the bottom half of 8th. No time for playing safe. When Our Number 25 sliced this hit into rightfield--there was NO WAY Our Third Base Coach Tim Tolman was holding "The Guz" at third base. Now Was The Time For Winning--NOTHING LESS WOULD DO. The very next few seconds were going to decide this ballgame. THIS WAS GOING TO BE CLOSE!! EVERYONE KNEW IT!! Thankfully--so did "The GUZ".
As the anticipation rose among The Faithful Watching--Nady cleanly fielded Austin's base hit. And as Guzman motored toward home plate--Xavier unloaded a terrific toss. With Wily Mo Pena waving for Cristian to slide to the outside of the plate--the baseball arrived in Ryan Doumit's hand--a split second before Guzman crossed home plate. Fully realizing he was close to being called out--Our Number 15--produced The Perfect Slide--a legs swinging away, lefthanded slap down on home. A Beautiful Piece of Artistry that found The Pirates Catcher MISSING on the tag!! A tremendous effort that Home Plate Umpire--Gary Cederstrom--had no choice--but to call Cristian Guzman SAFE!!
SAFE AT THE PLATE!!
In a mere matter of seconds--Our Washington Nationals now led by one run. An advantage--LATE--that brought the house down at New Nationals Park. It was great to witness Ryan Zimmerman's Walkoff Home Run on Opening Night. And just as exciting to see FLop knock in the winning run in the bottom half of the 12th yesterday. But, there is NOTHING like winning on a close play--in a tight game--to get the juices flowing. Knowing Our Washington Nationals can WIN--Or LOSE--on just this one play--AS THRILLING AS IT GETS!! What a play!! What a moment!!
In fact, it's that anticipation of watching--in person--such an exciting instant--which makes attending each and every game of Our Washington Nationals--must see baseball. You never know what's really going to happen. Watching it all play out in front of you--live and in person--special. No, The African Queen and I NEVER want to miss out on that type of fun.
This evening at New Nationals Park--Our Washington Nationals held on to win a very hard fought battle for Curly "W" Number 12. Two Clutch Hits, Some GREAT BASERUNNING--combining to produce The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! before an enthusiastic Dmitri Young Bobblehead Crowd of 24,723. If you enjoy good pitching, good defense and key hits--for your Baseball Pleasure--tonight was YOUR NIGHT--as well as ours.
Nothing like winning late. Nothing like a game changing moment. And nothing like watching it in person. Nothing like the few seconds that change any game's outcome. No--nothing like it.
For this was--A VERY GOOD GAME.
Game Notes & Highlights
Odalis Perez again pitched well enough to win. But--for the seventh consecutive time in 2008, he went home tonight without a single victory to his credit. Our Number 45 only gave up three hits and walked NO ONE in seven innings. Unfortunately for Perez--two of those Pittsburgh allowed hits were very costly. Two Mistake Pitches resulting in Two Solo Home Runs. The light hitting Freddy Sanchez got to Odalis in the 4th with a poke into The Pirates Leftfield Bullpen. And Ryan Doumit LAUNCHED a Perez toss into The Red Porch Seats in Left Center in the 7th. The Game Tying Run at that time--and the beginning of the end for Odalis this evening.
Luis Ayala continued to be strong out of the bullpen. Fully recovered from his elbow surgery--Our Number 56 was consistently throwing in the mid-90's during the 8th inning tonight. This was Luis Ayala--Vintage 2005 Version. If Our Washington Nationals are going to remain strong out of the bullpen--with Chad Cordero on the sidelines recovering from his injury--This Mexican Native will need to step up-NOW. No time better--but the present--for Luis Ayala to show everyone in the game--HE's BACK and once again--one of the finest set up men in the Baseball. Bring It On!! Luis!! We are counting on you!! Our Number 56 getting the win this evening. His first of 2008.
Austin Kearns' game winning single was his second SMOKED baseball of the night. In the bottom of the second inning--Our Number 25 followed Lastings Milledge's ground ball single to left with a rocket to center. A first and second with no outs situation developing where both runners eventually scored--after moving up one base on an infield ground out by Pena. All thanks to--Yes--Wil Nieves--AGAIN!! OK, Our Number 53 has been a Godsend for Our Washington Nationals. A Seven Game Hitting Streak, Enthusiasm and some fine Defensive Work behind the plate. Unquestionably--Wil Nieves has been a fine edition for Our Washington Nationals.
Like Joe Hardy from "Damn Yankees"--Wil Nieves is turning some heads. But, can he keep it up? And for how long? In the meantime--Our General Manager Jim Bowden looks like a genius for adding this career journeyman to Our Roster.
At one time--Pittsburgh's starter--Zach Duke was an up and coming young talent--wanted by many teams. He's struggled as a Pirate, but tonight showed the stuff so many believe he possesses. Seven strong innings--only the two run single by Nieves ruining an otherwise excellent night on the mound.
Speaking of The Pirates--they wear some of the better Classic Uniforms. I love their sleeveless road jerseys with Pittsburgh in Script. They look GREAT. The same holds true for their sleeveless white home Pirates Uniform. One of these days--this National League Founding Father of a Team--playing in the FINEST BASEBALL PARK in America--PNC PARK--will be good again. It will only be fair for their fans--as This Franchise deserves so much better. They possess everything, but THE PLAYERS.
Big Jon Rauch was sent out to close this one out--which he did--retiring The Pittsburgh Pirates Lineup, in order, in the 9th for his 6th save of 2008. With "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" gone for likely two months--the next eight weeks will tell whether "The Wookie" can hold down this Pressure Cooker of a job.
In the top of the 3rd Inning--Sohna and I were visited by MY BEST FRIEND!! SCREECH!! The layout of New Nationals Park has made it difficult for Screech to come to Section 218 on a consistent basis. So much so--SCREEEECH!! got lost again and went over to Section 217. Of course, I tracked him down and he worked his way back over to see his Girl Friend--The African Queen. We appreciated the visit. As we discussed with former Section 320 Faithfuls, Mike and his daughter Abby, later in the game--the only thing we miss about sitting in Club Level--compared to RFK Stadium's Section 320--was the constant visit from My Best Friend!! and The Nat Pack. Together--they combined to make our every game enjoyment of Washington Nationals Baseball--that much better.
Come on Guys!! and Gals!!--come see us more often. And bring TEDDY WITH YOU!! Maybe even GW, ABE & TOM. We miss you guys. As you know--there is nothing like the "Let Teddy Win!! Chant from Section 320--Now 218.
Finally--what a pleasure it was to see THIS ANNOUNCEMENT ON THE HDTV SCOREBOARD--most every half inning tonight. Yes, Our Washington Nationals are asking that ALL FANS REMAIN IN THEIR SEATS--while the game is being played. And if you are on the concourses--STAY THERE!! That means--no walking up and down the aisles to block others view of the game. Yes, it's going to be hard to enforce at first--but the sooner The Ushers start laying down the law and stopping folks--the better off for everyone. I don't care if you are attending your very first baseball game EVER. It's time to show some manners and respect for others at New Nationals Park.
To their credit--Management of Our Washington Nationals is listening to customers comments and working to find a solution. Good For Them. Excellent For Us.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Pablo Martinez Monsivais