Friday, May 23, 2008
The Routine Play
I guess Wily Mo Pena got the point. When even SBF starts being critical--you better straighten yourself out--or else?!! (and that's a joke and if you can't have fun with it--you just don't get it). Sohna had just finished saying--"You watch, after last night's post, today is the day Wily Mo is going to hit a home run!!" Seconds later--Our Number 26 hit a LASER BEAM over the left field wall--just over the Jackie Robinson #42 Tribute Sign. The First Home Run of the season for one of the strongest men in the game.
The African Queen and I couldn't stop laughing. In fact--we received a funny text message from one of our friends watching at home on television--stating he nearly fell out of his chair when Wily Mo poked Jeff Suppan's pitch over the wall for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. And it was all my fault.
A long awaited moment in 2008 that became the very last hit The Milwaukee Brewers Starting Pitcher would give up--until one key error--prolonged the sixth inning, and jump started a rally for Our Washington Nationals. A night that found Washington getting just three hits--but receiving some quality pitching all evening long.
A ROUTINE PLAY was the downfall for Milwaukee. With one out and FLop on first base with a walk--Cristian Guzman hit a perfect double play ground ball right at The Brewers Shortstop--J.J. Hardy. Looking to pick up the baseball, step on second and throw to first for an inning ending double play--J.J. instead found himself looking to touch the bag BEFORE he fielded the rolling baseball. Fumbling the grounder badly--his momentum carried past second base--without the ball and his subsequent toss to first--too late for the hard charging "GUZ".
One simple everyday play that J.J Hardy will make 99 out of 100 times would lead to a turnabout in play. Nearly out of the inning-a dejected Suppan sagged his head--over this error by his shortstop. A miscue that became the focal point of this 1-1 game at that time. Rattled, Jeff Suppan now had to face Ryan Zimmerman. Even the announced crowd of 28,007 understood the predicament at hand. Waking up for virtually the first time tonight--the fans in the stands began to make noise. No better clutch hitter for Our Washington Nationals with runners in scoring position.
And "Z" didn't waste any time. As he has performed over his short Major League Career--Our Number 11 took advantage of a situation and looked for a ball to drive. Not surprisingly, Suppan gave it to him. On the very first pitch of this KEY At-Bat, The Milwaukee Starter threw an off speed pitch over the outside corner that Ryan Zimmerman DRILLED into the right centerfield gap. When Zimmerman is hitting well--as he has done of late--many of his extra base hits go the opposite way. This Drive easily scoring Felipe Lopez and moving Cristian Guzman to third base. A double that found the Home Faithful on their feet giving their approval. Washington, unexpectedly ahead 2-1.
RALLYTIME!! was now in full effect--thanks to a gift error. And when Dmitri Young was hit by pitch by the flustered Suppan to load the bases-Our Washington Nationals scored a fourth run when Lastings Milledge meekly grounded out to first base for the second out of the inning--plating Guzman from third. Still--this inning was not over--by a long shot. Thanks to another drive which Our New Starting Catcher stroked in his continuing efforts to remain on The Big League Roster.
Not wanting to be sent down when Paul LoDuca returns from The Disabled List--Jesus Flores has impressed once again--both behind the plate and at the plate. Tonight--he HAMMERED Suppan's very first pitch over the outstretched arms of The Brewers Leftfielder--Ryan Braun. A CRACK OF THE BAT that could be heard throughout New Nationals Park. Our Number 3 got good wood on that smack. A bases clearing double scoring Zimmerman and Aaron Boone (pinch running for Dmitri).
Minutes earlier, The Milwaukee Brewers were on their way to the 7th inning to bat in a tie ballgame. Now they found themselves four run downs--thanks to a bobble of an everyday ground ball. How quickly this game changed. Jeff Suppan would lose his compose and ultimately this game. And to think--he was totally in control--throwing a one hitter before Hardy's lapse. Our Washington Nationals had struck back and taken advantage of an egregious error for a 5-1 lead--which would hold up. How many times have we all seen the same scenario play out with Washington on the bad receiving end of a similar mistake?
Not this time.
The Bang!! Zoom!! of The Fireworks proving tonight that the most Routine Play--botched--can completely turnaround any ball game. A fact The Milwaukee Brewers learned tonight--the hard way. Our Washington Nationals taking advantage for Curly "W" Number 21.
Game Notes & Highlights
Odalis Perez started tonight for Washington and only lasted five innings. He was removed, sort of surprisingly after the fifth inning. Our Number 45 wasn't pitching badly, nor did he seem to be losing his control. Yet, Our Manager Manny Acta replaced him with recently recalled Brian Sanches. Later, it was announced Perez had cut his throwing thumb--tossing a pitch. Our New Number 22 then striking out three of the four Milwaukee Batters he faced in the sixth--only allowing a single to Prince Fielder. A drive by the hefty Brewers first baseman that bounced off the 14 foot wall in right field and was thrown back into the infield--before Fielder could run to second base. He should have been standing on second. Nonetheless--Fielder did not score but Sanches scored BIG TIME!!--when Our Washington Nationals rallied in the bottom of the sixth after Hardy's error. The four run frame that made Sanches the beneficiary and THE WINNER in his 2008 Major League Debut.
Only in baseball--how often stuff like that happens to recently recalled players.
Saul Rivera, Luis Ayala and Big Jon Rauch worked the final three innings--unscored upon--to close this win out.
Elijah Dukes fouled a baseball off his instep early in the game and was removed later with an ankle injury. Today's recall--Ryan Lanagerhans replaced him. If Dukes can not go tomorrow--would it not be better to place Langerhans in Center and Milledge in right? Langerhans the far superior outfielder.
I still can't get over the Wily Mo Pena home run. That shot is EXACTLY why Our General Manager Jim Bowden is so infatuated with him. The only problem is that Our Number 26 has never been consistent enough to establish himself. One decent game--does not a season make.
What more can you say about Jesus Flores. Why in world would Our Washington Nationals want to play ANYONE ELSE for an extended time behind the plate. If 2008 is to find out CORE PLAYERS--Our Number 3 is EXACTLY THAT--keep him in the lineup. Really, does it really matter if LoDuca & Johnny Estrada return? They are not the future. Jesus Flores IS!! He needs to continue to improve. Play Him--as many days as you can--without killing him.
When Prince Fielder hit that long single off Brian Sanches--The African Queen noticed that he and Dmitri Young standing side by side at first base--could pass for twins. Yeah, they could. Both are Big Boys!! We chuckled at the resemblance.
During the key sixth inning when The Milwaukee Brewers Manager Ned Yost finally took out Jeff Suppan--"Sweet Caroline" was played to entertain the crowd. As always Usher Coach stepped onto Our Washington Nationals Dugout to get the crowd going. What was funny was the sight of Nick Johnson getting into the festivities from the dugout--mimicking Coach and eventually yelling something out to him. Coach responded and laughed. Johnson and Aaron Boone Busted Out Laughing from the bench. I am going to find out the scoop tomorrow from Coach.
Of course with The Milwaukee Brewers in town--there was suspense over whether The Brewers Famous Racing Sausages would post up at New Nationals Park this evening? With the anticipation great for the middle of the 4th Presidents Race--The Rushmore ran out--alone. No Sausages to compete with. I have to say--The African Queen and I were very disappointed. We were really expecting them. Of course, Our Presidents showed signs after the race--calling out The Sausages for not showing up.
Later--I went over to the Kids Zone Photo Spot to asked what's going on? All The Racing Presidents could do was shrug their shoulders in dismay. Could this all be a set up for The Sausages showing up sometime over Memorial Day Weekend?
No excuses if they don't come.
Sohna and I also got a kick out of the wall scoreboard in right centerfield proclaiming Bang!! Zoom!! Go The Fireworks!! and another Curly "W" in the books at the conclusion of tonight's win. Radio Broadcaster Charlie Slowes had mentioned this to me last week and this was the very first time we had noticed "another Curly 'W' in the books!!" In such a short period of time, it's pretty impressive how many phrases Charlie has coined that are now a part of Our Washington Nationals Baseball Vernacular. Good for him. Fun for us.
Tonight was also Bang!! Zoom!! Go The Fireworks!! Friday Night at New Nationals Park. The less than 10 minute show above and behind the first base stands. The display is decent and the dimming of the stadium lights sort of eerie. We have always found the fireworks funny at the end of the big sendoff. Just as everybody is getting up to leave--the fireworks that apparently did not go off during the program--are set off--just to clear the firing devices. All making for an odd moment--fans thinking maybe they should not be leaving just yet.
Finally--this evening--many that work within New Nationals Park celebrated the 69th Birthday of Richard Miller. Long time Usher at RFK Stadium and now The South Capitol Street Ballpark. Richard, a good friend to Sohna and I, was honored by his teammates and co-workers when his name was placed on the HDTV Scoreboard during the traditional 5th inning Birthday Greetings. If you were paying attention and at the ballpark--there was quite the ruckus during this point in the game. Handclaps, hugs and kisses for this very nice man. Happy Birthday Richard!! May you have Many, Many, More!!
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Pablo Martinez Monsivais
All Other Photos--Nats320 (All Rights Reserved)