Tuesday, July 08, 2008
One of the best pitchers in the game was ripe for the taking. The Arizona Diamondback's Brandon Webb did not have his best stuff. The great sinker not sharp. The sweat rolling off his perspiring forehead looking more like a water fall. Was Webb ever drenched. Apparently, 87 Degree Hot and Humid Weather in The Nation's Capital a far cry from the 100 Degree Dry Heat from the Desert--for the 2006 National League Cy Young Award Winner.
Our Washington Nationals had Brandon Webb on the ropes--four times--this evening at New Nationals Park. Runners on 1st and 2nd, nobody out in the bottom of the second--opportunity wasted. Runners on 1st and 3rd with one out in the same bottom of the second--opportunity wasted. Runners again on first and third, one out in the 4th--opportunity wasted. Bases loaded, two outs, in the bottom of the 5th--opportunity wasted yet again. Four times during the six innings that Webb pressed and struggled on the mound--Washington could not score against him. They could not push one single run across the plate.
With Washington runners in scoring position during these three crucial and game deciding innings--these were the results from the hitters in our lineup:
Jesus Flores Groundout.
Wily Mo Pena Strikeout (and badly on off speed stuff)
Roger Bernadina Groundout.
Jesus Flores Strikeout.
Wily Mo Pena Strikeout (again badly looking).
Austin Kearns Fly Out (with the bases loaded).
And remember, Webb was throwing a tremendous amount of pitches. 112 by time his Manager, Bob Melvin, removed him from this affair after the sixth inning. Yet some how, some way, Brandon was still pitching shutout ball. As Webb headed toward the Visitors Dugout slowly walking off the field at the conclusion his final frame--he must have felt like one lucky man to survive. Fortunate to face Our Washington Nationals Lineup, also struggling, on a night he was simply beatable.
Six Times, Four Different Batters for Our Washington Nationals stepped to the plate with the opportunity to knock someone, any one run home. Each time, they all failed. Each time, opportunity wasted to knock a quality pitcher out of this game. Opportunity wasted to beat a GREAT PITCHER.
Honestly, this was the night--that never was. When four pitchers for Washington combine to throw 9 innings of four hit ball--you deserve better. When those pitchers are left watching their fielders make two crucial errors--you deserve better. When you lose by giving up just two unearned runs-thanks to those errors--you deserve better.
Unfortunately, for Our Washington Nationals even one run was too large a deficit to overcome this evening. They wasted every opportunity to move ahead and defeat The Arizona Diamondbacks. And Brandon Webb was let off the hook by Our Washington Nationals. Webb better being buying a whole round of drinks in thanks for somebody. He was lucky to get his 13th Win of 2008.
Final Score from Hot, Humid and fairly uncomfortable (weather wise) New Nationals Park--The Snakes 2 and Our Nats ZERO.
Game Notes & Highlights
Home Plate Umpire Angel Hernandez has one quick thumb. In the top of the third inning, Hernandez signaled Balk against Odalis Perez--twice. First, Arizona's Chris Burke moved to second when Angel called a balk on Perez. This after Burke was safe at first on a throwing error by "The Guz". A mistake that set up the eventual game deciding run. Chris Young followed with a looping liner to right--scoring Chris Burke for The Snakes first run of the evening. But then, matters got even worse.
With Stephen Drew at the plate, Odalis Perez attempted a pickoff throw to first base--moving Young back to the bag. Immediately, Home Plate Umpire Angel Hernandez called BALK--again. And Our Number 45 went BALLISTIC!! Right away, Perez started berating Hernandez, yelling and screaming. Later, Odalis would state he's been using the exact same pickoff move all season.
Hernandez waited about three seconds--and tossed Perez from the game. And Odalis WENT NUTS!! Did he ever start giving Angel Hernandez the business. Both Our Manager Manny Acta and Pitching Coach Randy St.Claire rushed out to hold Perez back. No, It didn't help Our Number 45--as he was already gone. But, at least, he could always say, he got the last word in. Manny, in the postgame, stated that Odalis Perez's anger had put Our Washington Nationals in a big hole.
But I have say, in Perez's defense. There was NO REASON for the Home Plate Umpire to toss Odalis. Not without a warning. Not without further explaining his call to the pitcher. Yeah, Our Number 45 was pissed. Cooler heads should have prevailed on this hot night. Sometimes, an umpire needs to let a player vent. Let him get over it. Move on. The quick removal of Our Starting Pitcher sent another shockwave through our already depleted and overworked bullpen.
In this same top of the third inning--The Diamondbacks Orlando Hudson smashed a grounder up the middle, just to the right of the second base bag. Felipe Lopez ranged all the way over to his right, dove at the last second, to stop the hard hit baseball. Then, FLop proceeded to toss the baseball sideways using the glove hand while his chest was firmly planted in the ground--toward Cristian Guzman at second base. The baseball dribbling while "The Guz" stretched for it. A FLop/Flip combination that retired Stephen Drew for the final out and The Defensive Play of This Game.
Jesus Flores made a nice toss to FLop at second to catch Arizona's Connor Jackson attempting to steal in the second. And Wily Mo Pena made a nice running catch to the wall down the left field line in the top of the 8th. A shoelace/snow cone catch over the foul line--right at the green pads down the left field line. As poorly as Our Number 26 has played defensively, you had to give him his due for this catch of a Mark Reynolds drive.
During the key bottom of the 5th--Our Washington Nationals rallied and loaded up the bases. An opportunity that would not have occurred--if not for hustle. With two out and Kory Casto on second base after a pinch hit double--Ronnie Belliard slapped a routine grounder to Reynolds--Arizona's Third Baseman. Our Number 10 did not give up on the play. In fact, he never looked over at third. With his head down, running hard, Belliard was rewarded when Reynolds misplayed the baseball, fumbling it. The result leading to a possible game changing moment--thanks to RUNNING A GROUND BALL OUT. A hit that every single person in the ballpark thought was out number three. No--Washington did not ultimately score--but it goes to prove the point. RUN EVERYTHING OUT!! You never know what might happen--no matter how routine the play may seem. Mark Reynolds' error perfectly reminded everyone of the point.
Saul Rivera was victimized for an unearned run in the top of the sixth--when Roger Bernadina totally misplayed a single slapped right in front of him by The Snakes Robbie Hammock. A three base error that scored Mark Reynolds with the second and final run of the evening. I don't recall hearing such a collective sigh of disappointment from a crowd at New Nationals Park over this mistake. The number of folks throwing up their hands in disbelief over the miscue was quite remarkable.
Finally, and since we are talking about mistakes and errors--Teddy was leading The Geico Presidents Race all the way to nearly the finish line. Only to lose his right shoe, stumble and fall, while Abe jumped over him and through the finish line for the victory. Teddy, what are we going to do with you?
Of course--Abe winning was justified. Tonight for Tee-Shirt Tuesday--Our Washington Nationals gave away Abe Lincoln Racing President Tees--to the first 10,000 fans inside the gates.
PS--Did The Washington Post really send AN INTERN to cover The Gamer last night? Interesting. No matter how badly the team is struggling--I wonder whether The Washington Post would send an intern to write a gamer for The Redskins, Wizards, Capitals or even a DC United Game. Really, I would like to know.
Tonight's InGame Photos
Brandon Webb--(AP) Haraz N. Ghanbari
Perez, Acta, Hernandez--(Washington Post) Toni L. Sandys