Friday, July 11, 2008

By The Numbers

Reminder: DC United is playing at RFK Stadium Saturday Night July 12th. Nats Express will operate from Lot 7--not Lot 8. DC United Fans will be tailgating there. Nats Fans using the free shuttle service to New Nationals park--please be aware.

If the oddsmakers had told me I had to give up nine runs against Roy Oswalt and The Houston Astros--in order to win, I would have laughed in their face. No way Our Washington Nationals post a 10 Spot of The 'Stros Top Pitcher. Too bad, I am not a big betting man--because Houston's Top Ace would strain his hip abductor--opening up a series of numbers games this evening.

The very moment Big Chad Paronto started warming up for Houston in the bottom of the first--you knew something was up. When Their Number 54 held up play in the top of the 2nd--jogging down from the left field visitors bullpen to the visitors dugout--you new this was serious. And when Paronto was announced as a Pinch Hitter for Roy Oswalt in the top of the second--you knew Their Number 44 was hurt.

Let The Fireworks!! Begin!!--2 Hours and 30 Minutes before they were originally scheduled to commence this Friday Night.

Powerball was under way. Our Washington Nationals were providing the thunder. And Our Number 10 became The Power Draw. Just about any combination worked tonight for Washington. In fact, things went so well that Our Manager Manny Acta maybe could have sent The African Queen out there for her first plate appearance. The way The Astros Pitching fell apart tonight--her Baseball 101 Instruction could have come in handy.

Ronnie Bellard greeted Chad and set off those Pyrotechnics right away. First--a golf shot off Paronto in the bottom of the 2nd. A two run homer with that arching trajectory and Jesus Flores aboard. A 3-10 Combination putting Washington into the early lead, 2-0. The type of Home Run you stand there and admire--for its beauty. Style that Our Number 10 has down pat. Can that man ever put on a show. Then, "Manny Ramirez, Jr" would return for an encore performance in the bottom of the 5th--this time with Kory Casto and Jesus Flores on bases--this time facing Dave Borkowski.

With Washington already up 5-0, Belliard decided to put this game out of reach. Swinging as hard as any player in the game--Ronnie connected and fully extended on a full count pitch right down the middle of the plate. As Our Number 10's left arm, his bat hand, extended high into the air--this smacked baseball, launched by his lumber went deeper and deeper into the night. And well before his drive cleared the wall for a three run homer--Ronnie Belliard was already struting his way around the bases in triumph. The lucky numbers had been drawn for the evening and Our Number 10 was Officially A Winner. In fact, his second homer of the evening was the 100th of his career. A milestone that found Ronnie Belliard taking a curtain call from the joyous crowd.

A Two Homer, Five RBI Night that put Washington up 8-0 and found the buzzing crowd of 33,653 rejoicing in a blowout. Was that really Our Washington Nationals crushing an opponent? Was that really Our Home Team putting together a complete effort on the field tonight? They played well--a nearly perfect game. And Washington even placed down two fine sacrifice bunts. That fact alone meant Our Washington Nationals were destined to win.

But Ronnie Belliard was not the entire show--another number had a big night.

Our Number 25 displayed his value. Since Austin Kearns returned from his elbow surgery just 8 short games ago--he has been very effective. Keeping his shoulder in, swinging through the ball and obviously fully recovered from his injury--"Bluegrass" has been hot. Tonight--a well stroked opposite field double to right centerfield scoring "The Guz" in the 3rd, then a Rocket Shot Two Run Home Run to left center and the Houston Bullpen in the 6th--scoring Cristian Guzman again before him. A 15-25 mix that combined to score 5 runs and knock in three this evening. Austin Kearns has driven in eight runs since returning from The Disabled List.

How about Our Number 15. Cristian Guzman is smoking the baseball. This evening--three more hits, three runs scored, Our 2008 All Star found his groove early this season and is just not letting up. "The Guz" easily Our Most Valuable Player so far this season.

How about Our Number 3? Destined for AAA Ball for "SEASONING" before the year started, Jesus Flores continues to rack up some Power Numbers of his own. A Key two run, two strike single off Borkowski in the bottom of the 5th--setting up Belliard's three run blast moments later. Leading Our Washington Nationals in Runs Batted In (with 35), Flores has proven that sometimes you have to get lucky (thanks to player injuries) to show that you are good. Our Number 3 beating the odds as well in 2008.

And how about that 17-59 match up at New Nationals Park. Tim Redding and Steven Shell combining to pitch nine shutout innings. Redding receiving his 7th win and Shell garnering the rare three inning save.

Curly "W" Number 36 was an absolute blowout. An evening that found Our Manager Manny Acta picking the right combination of uniform numbers leading to victory. And The Bang!! Zoom!! Of The Fireworks!! proving that choosing the right Powerball Number can always be EXPLOSIVE--just look at Lucky Number 10!!

Final Score after the most relaxing victory of 2008--Our Washington Nationals 10 and The Houston Astros Zero. Yes, 10-Zip. That is not a misprint. Those Numbers Are Correct.

Game Notes & Highlights

Tim Redding was also the winner of The Powerball Lottery Tonight. Having not won one single decision in nine consecutive starts, this was simply his lucky chance to win. Hard to believe Our Number 17 had six wins back in May--and it took him until July 11 to receive his 7th. Baseball--always the great equalizer. You are never as good or as bad as you think. This evening--Redding went 114 pitches into the game. He didn't give up a single walk--his command was fine. But he also wasn't lights out. Scattering seven hits--Tim Redding was pitching without his best stuff and kept his team in the game--just like Brandon Webb did this past Tuesday Night for Arizona at New Nationals Park. Our Number 17 set up his teammates to win. That's all you ask of the man--or any pitcher.

Ronnie Belliard had quite the night. He started the evening at 3rd Base. But when Dmitri Young strained his back swinging in the 3rd inning and had to leave the game--"The Ballplayer" moved to 1st base to replace Our Number 21. Manning his new position, Our Number 10 made a nice catch of an errant throw from his replacement at third base--Pete Orr--in the 5th to retire Hunter Pence. But his best fielding effort came in the top of the 9th. And this one play typified how there was NO CHANCE Our Washington Nationals would lose tonight.

Miguel Tejada would ground sharply to "The Guz" leading off the top of the 9th. Guzman would first muff the catch, then physically boot the ball even farther to his right. With Tejada still running hard, but not necessarily fast, Our Number 15 then retrieved the baseball, and slung it across the diamond--well away from Ronnie Belliard. A error in the making. Ronnie had other ideas though. Just wanting to get the out, Our Number 10 proceeded to cross the 1st base bag toward the hard charging Tejada--catch the errant toss and all in one motion--slam down his glove hand--containing the baseball--on Miggy's right shoulder to JUST BEAT HIM for Out Number One. A very fine effort from Ronnie Belliard--and the HONORARY Defensive Play of This Game. Ronnie was IN THE GROOVE--that Zone where you can do no wrong.

By the way, Dmitri's back strain is listed as day to day.

And Roy Oswalt was removed from the game due to a hip strain.

The Houston Astros have nearly the identical color combinations in their uniforms as The Arizona Diamondbacks. Having both these teams visit New Nationals Park back to back--at times I found myself thinking we were playing The Snakes again tonight. Odd.

Lance Berkman is one fine player. Kept under wraps tonight--his power numbers shown on the HDTV Screen were downright impressive. Even more so--Berkman has stolen 14 bases this season. And this a man--with constant knee problems.

There was alot of action surrounding the game this evening.

Of course Teddy did it again. He found another way to lose in style. This time during the 4th Inning Preidents Race--Our Lovable Loser ran the wrong way around the outfield warning track. While Abe, GW and Tom ran the normal course toward the right field foul poll--Teddy ran toward left field. After realizing his mistake--Teddy was assisted off the field--and actually showed some emotion--by kicking over a chair in disappointment.

Throughout the game--Our Washington Nationals were displaying to all fans interested--the various ticket technologies available to them for use for each and every game played at New Nationals Park. Through your ticket account number and password, you can sell, trade, even email to yourself or a friend--a forgotten ticket. If you have a cell phone with capability--you can even send a bar code that any ticket taker can scan and let you into the park--and provide a receipt. in conjunction with Major League Baseball and StubHub allow Season Ticket Holders to directly sell their game tickets online--with all funds going directly to your personal account. Staff will be in place through this Saturday Night, in the Centerfield Plaza, near The Red Porch Restaurant. So, if you are interested in finding out more about various ways to use your season tickets--check it out.

Although Our Washington Nationals provided much of the firepower tonight--Friday Night was a Bang!! Zoom!! Go The Fireworks!! Night after the game as well. The 10 Minute show which begins shortly after the conclusion of all Friday night home games.

The Saturday Night Movie to be shown after tomorrow's game will be "The Sandlot". All patrons wishing to view the movie are asked to sit on the third base side of New Nationals Park--anywhere except for Presidents and Diamond Club. Limited concessions will be available.

Finally--a reminder. It's Christmas in July! All weekend The United States Marines are on hand at New Nationals Park to collect unwrapped toys and monetary donations for The Toys For Tots Program. As always, we participate. And Sohna always proud of those Marines in their sharp dress uniforms.

Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Haraz N. Ghanbari
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


SenatorNat said...

7-11 lucky indeed for No. 10 in a game in which Nats score 10 and he gets to #100.

Most impressive win of the season; what should not be lost is this past week of starting pitching, in which Snakes and Astros are getting 1 or less earned runs. If Ballister quickly grows, we could have an amazing 5 starter rotation for the second half.

Couple that with good defense: clearly Belliard and Boone when he gets back superior to Young at first; Orr decent until Z-Man returns; and Harris (despite error in 9th)generally better, along with Casto in left and center than "airmail" Bernandina (now replaced on roster by excellent fielder Langerhans). FLOP and Guz need to lay out more for balls, but they are otherwise proficient. Flores pretty good catcher overall.

Relievers: Ayala needs a prolonged rest - his overworked arm last year and first half this year is showing big time. But Manning and Shell showing some promise. Hanrahan could wind up being a jewel over time, with more experience and confidence. Colome has great arm, and other that Flop, is the most infuriating National. Rauch preferred as set-up guy, but adequate as closer.

Acta needs to go to small ball: Plan B. Yes, the home runs the past three nights overall have given Nats 6.5 runs per game, but no way we can live depending on them. He just showed NO imagination in 9th & 10th on Friday night. Pitchers should have been pinch-running; best bunter should have been up there for Dmitri, etc. Nothing to lose by playing creatively - keeps everyone on the bench engaged, too.

WM Pena needs gold instruction. Seriously! Should he get a series of excellent gold lessons from area pro, he could actually learn to hit the low outside pitch, without automatically taking his right hand off the bat. Nothing can hurt his swing at this point. Why can't Redding work with him - pitching exactily the way every pitcher is setting him up - and having him practice the 1-2-3 that way (low outside corner fast ball strike; low off the corner ball; low more off the corner ball). Of course, the best plan is th release him and bring up Alex Escobar!!

Trust in Large Ball. All Good.

SenatorNat said...

Meant to say, Acta showed no imagination in Thursday night's game; and of course, I meant to type "golf" lessons for Pena, not "gold" lessons. These guys make gold already whether they can hit or care about the game...

paul said...

Belliard leads the team in homers (9) with only 155 at bats. He is second on the team in RBI's. He is Manny Jr!