Sunday, May 11, 2008
Opportunity Lost On Mother's Day--A Continuing Trend
Even Mother Nature Was Upset.
The damp dreary sprinkles falling throughout the afternoon had dramatically changed. A Rain Of Boos were now cascading down from above. Fans at New Nationals Park were not happy. Luis Ayala had trotted out to pitch the just completed 8th inning with Our Washington Nationals up 4-2. An advantage held due to some solid starting pitching from Shawn Hill and some timely hitting from Aaron Boone and Ronnie Belliard.
A two run lead washed away--almost instantly.
Our Number 56 needed just three pitches to tie the game and five batters to lose it. Luis Ayala has not been the same solid pitcher over the past week. Consistently leaving his patented slider up in the zone. And at times--late this afternoon on South Capitol Street--Ayala looked like he was throwing batting practice. No zip of any of his pitches.
Alfredo Amezaga led off the top of this pivotal 8th and slammed Luis' second pitch near Aaron Boone--today's first baseman. A hot potato that Boone deflected and picked up--only to see that Ayala had delayed his run to first base to cover the bag. A brain lock and resultant infield single that changed this game--for the worse. For on Our Number 56's very next pitch--a hanging slider in and over the middle the plate--The Florida Marlins' Jeremy Hermida CRUSHED this toss deep into the right field seats--over the Scoreboard Wall. A Tying Homer that immediately found the home crowd turning.
Upset over the lost lead.
Disappointed over another Bullpen Failure.
In a tizzy over Our Washington Nationals putting themselves in another position to lose--a winnable game.
A Victory Lost three batters later when Dan Uggla got ahold of an Ayala Fastball laid in over the middle of the plate. A drive that landed well over the right centerfield fence for the Go Ahead and Eventual Game Winning Run. Just like that, Our Washington Nationals were trailing, and the restless faithful were letting Our Team on the field know their feelings. This was not pretty. After last night's horrendous 11-0 loss, an affair where Washington was never in the game--a turnabout victory this Mother's Day Sunday would have done wonders to take the bitter taste out of such a bad loss and head on to The Big Apple to play The New York Mets.
Instead, an overwhelming feeling of sorrow developed late this afternoon--when Our Manager Manny Acta called on Luis Ayala to stretch this ballgame to the 9th--looking for a win. An untidy effort by Our Number 56--which washed away a deserved victory--just like the raining downpour that immediately followed the conclusion of this awful loss. Apparently, even Mother Nature crying and upset over today's turn of events--letting Our Washington Nationals know: It's OK to lose--but not so consistently--in such bad fashion.
Final Score--The Florida Marlins 5 and Our Washington Nationals 4. Washington, losers of five of their last six games. Yes, once again--opportunity lost this Mother's Day. A continuing trend where poor play and mental mistakes have taken their toll--limiting any chance to win--consistently.
Maybe, we can get Chicken Man to Sacrifice another Rubber Chicken as penance? That and some much better play by Our Washington Nationals needed. Like Now?!
Game Notes & Highlights
Shawn Hill pitched well enough to win. The Florida Marlins manufactured a run in the 2nd inning with a Hit by Pitch of Dan Uggla, single by Luis Gonzalez and sacrifice fly by Wes Helms. And plated their second run of this afternoon--when Uggla slugged his first home run and eventual third over two days--just over the left field wall. A blast that brought Florida within two, before the disruptive 8th inning. Our Number 41 not walking a single batter--giving up five hits. And when he completed his seven inning effort--not many watching did not believe his first victory of 2008 was in hand.
Aaron Boone continues to swing a hot bat. Over the past week, Our Number 8 has more resembled the fine player he was--before his knee injury. Hitting with power, stroking key hits. Today--a nice home run into the Red Porch Seats in left center. A triple over the head of the slipping Amezega in centerfield and a single. When Aaron Boone batted for the final time late in the game--not a sole rooting for Washington--did not wish to see him hit for the cycle. Needing a double, Boone flew out to right field.
Washington pulled ahead with what many felt were the game winning runs in the bottom of the third, when Ronnie Belliard laced a home run down the left field line--a two run shot--with Jesus Flores on second base. And Ryan Zimmerman was safe on an infield single and scored Our Washington Nationals 4th and final run of the afternoon on Boone's ruled triple.
Immediately after Boone's Home Run--Lastings Milledge laced a sharp grounder into the hole between shortstop and third. A hard hit ball which The Florida Marlins Hanley Ramirez dove to his right. Totally stretched out and face planting himself, Ramirez gloved the ball, got up, and threw out the fast moving Milledge for The Defensive Play of This Game.
Once again--no significant production from our Outfield. Wily Mo Pena, Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes (today's right fielder)--all hitless. Austin Kearns had the day off.
It's worth mentioning again--What is wrong with Luis Ayala? This one time dependable setup man appeared to be 100% back from his elbow surgery--over two years ago. Lately, Our Number 56 has not been the same. Is he hurt? Or just going through a bad streak? Either way--his work of late--poor.
Which also brings up questions concerning Our Bullpen. Starting Pitchers not going late into games, most all season long. Relievers putting in extended times on the mound in relief. Overworked players like Saul Rivera. Our Washington Nationals Bullpen has always been the Strongest Part of This Franchise. Today--it's becoming more of a question mark.
The Florida Marlins--now undefeated in six games at New Nationals Park. Our Washington Nationals the sole reason The Fish are in first place in The National League East.
Our Washington Nationals Celebrated Mother's Day by Honoring Breast Cancer Survivors, Celebrating Mothers and Raising Awareness of Breast Cancer Research. The first 20,000 Fans entering New Nationals Park were handed a white embroidered Pink Curly "W" and Pink Ribbon Cap. 200 Breast Cancer Survivors were honored at today's game. Nine of whom took the field to greet Our Washington Nationals Starting Nine at the beginning of the game.
As has been the case over the past three Mother's Days--Major League Baseball approved the use of special Pink Bats for those players wishing to participate in the special event on Game Day. Each and every base on the field and The Batting Lineups handed to The Home Plate Umpire contained The Pink Ribbon. Each Player (except pitchers), Coaches, and Umpires wore Pink Wristbands.
And, of course--The African Queen participated in her own way. She wore her Pink Nationals Jersey and Pink Curly "W" Cap. And was joined in celebration by, not only Iris, but Little Abby & The Expectant Becky.
We love those PINK BATS. So why DID NOT Our Washington Nationals sell them in The Team Store Today--as has been the case each of the past two seasons? We really wanted to buy one? And asked all over--to no avail--sadly.
Finally--Sohna and I have become addicted to the Curly "W" Popcorn. Very Salty and Buttering--all the bad things, but freshly air popped--it's very good. $4.75 at various concession stands around New Nationals Park.
But, we continue to be stumped by the EXTREMELY slow lines at the many Nats Dogs stands. Again this afternoon, a one minute walk to our closest Nats Dogs Stand behind Section 223--took AN ENTIRE INNING just to get to the front of the line, order and return to my seat. Yet, there were just THREE people in front of me. How is that conceivably possible? The first person ordered a pretzel and a beer. The second--two nachos and a two cokes. The third--three Nats Dogs. Why over 10 Minutes to complete the process? There seems to be ZERO effort to move fans through the line promptly. Concession Workers behind the counter constantly yelling at each other. No one in charge.
Today's InGame Photos--(AP) Pablo Martinez Monsivais
All Other Photos--Nats320 (All Rights Reserved)