Wednesday, July 30, 2008
How could you leave him in the game? He didn't have it. Everyone knew it from the first inning on. Now, Tim Redding was in a big jam--thanks to his own doing--in a one run game in the top of the fifth. And no one was warming up in Our Washington Nationals Bullpen. No One.
A hot, steamy night. A starting pitcher laboring. The humidity effect certainly a factor. Washington having lost seven straight ball games. This was not the night to attempt to get your hurler through the required five innings just to register for a possible win. This was an evening to come out on top in a close ball game. A Winnable Affair that got out of hand--in a space of five batters. All of about 10 minutes in real time.
Tim Redding had just committed The Cardinal Sin in a 3-2 game. Our Number 17 walked the opposing pitcher for The Philadelphia Phillies. A 45 Year Old Starter that was ATTEMPTING to give himself up. Instead of sacrificing his teammate Carlos Ruiz to second base on a bunt--Jamie Moyer walked on five pitches, thanks to Redding's inability to locate his pitches. Tim's inconsistency should have sent up a red flag. A warning that Our Washington Nationals were about to be trounced.
Instead, with the Reigning National League MVP Jimmy Rollins stepping to the plate, the pesky Shane Victorino to follow him and the always dangerous Chase Utley in the hole--no one from Washington's Dugout came out to speak to Redding--until after Rollins had tied the the game at three--with a double to the gap in right--scoring Ruiz. Clearly, Our Number 17 did not have it. Finally, when Our Pitching Coach Randy St. Claire did run out to the mound to check on Redding--the Go Ahead Run now stood on third in Moyer, with an insurance run on second in Rollins. And the heart of Philadelphia's Order scheduled next.
Mr. St.Claire's visit was too little, too late as Our Washington Nationals still had no one warming up in the bullpen.
A good contact switch hitter like Victorino is going to pounce on a struggling pitcher. And the heart of The Philadelphia Lineup is going to make these matters worse. With the slugging Utley waiting and the powerful Ryan Howard to follow--is this NOT THE TIME for Charlie Manning to be warming up in the pen? Our only lefthander reliever to turn Victorino around and pitch our strength to the lefthanded hitting strength of Utley and Howard?
Surprisingly, Washington made no countermove. Two Batters Later--This Game Was Over.
Shane Victorino singled in the 4th and 5th runs for Philadelphia and Chase Utley ended this affair with a NO DOUBT Two Run Shot off Tim Redding. A Five Run Inning resulted, all with No Outs for Philadelphia, and only then was someone warming up in Our Washington Nationals Bullpen.
Why did Our Washington Nationals keep Tim Redding in this game--for far too long? Why did Our Manager Manny Acta not trust his bullpen? Why were no moves made until AFTER Philadelphia's Big Inning had mostly erupted? Why did we not give ourselves The Very Best Chance To Win?
Our Friend Andrew and I must have discussed this throughout the remainder of the 5th and on into the 6th inning. We didn't quite understand the non-moves. Our Washington Nationals had nothing to lose, only to gain. Why not take every chance to stop the losing streak?
Instead, all that resulted was Our Washington Nationals 8th Straight Defeat. Our Team now 31 Games below .500. Final Score from sultry New Nationals Park--The Philadelphia Phillies 8 and Our Washington Nationals 5--in disappointing style.
Really, this game was WINNABLE, instead it became loss number 69 of 2008.
Game Notes & Highlights
As well as Tim Redding has pitched most all season--tonight was simply not his night. Of course he couldn't have picked a worse time to stumble--less than 24 Hours from the Non-Waiver Deadline for trades. There may not be much interest for Our Number 17 anyway, but this outing certainly didn't help matters either.
Reliever Steven Shell had pitched 15 consecutive scoreless innings of relief--until Shane Victorino took him deep and over the right field wall for a home run in the 7th inning.
Another good crowd this Wednesday Evening at New Nationals Park--31,798.
In the game deciding fifth inning for Philadelphia, The Phillies Pat Burrell hammered a grounder just to the left of Ryan Zimmerman at third base. "Z" dove to his left, scooped the baseball, righted himself and threw out the not so fast running Burrell for what would have been The Defensive Play of This Game, if not for the fact that Burrell made a great effort of his own--when he retrieved a Jesus Flores drive over his head and off the left field wall in bottom of the sixth. With Our Number 3 not being the swiftest of runners either--Burrell flawlessly picked up the carom and fired a perfect strike to Chase Utley at second base to easily retire Flores for The Defensive Play of This Game. Replays actually showed that Utley MIGHT have missed the tag. But Jesus was so far away from the bag when the baseball arrived--there are very few umpires that are not going to give the defensive team the call on that neighborhood play.
Sohna and I started laughing when Willie Harris led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run over the right centerfield wall. A blast off Jamie Moyer which was the first Lead Off Homer for a member of Our Washington Nationals since Felipe Lopez did the trick on May 8th, 2007 at Milwaukee's Miller Park. Delighted we were to look over to our left to see Our General Manager Jim Bowden, in his private box, immediately start typing something on his blackberry. An effort that became more furious after Austin Kearns doubled to left and Jesus Flores followed with his 7th Home Run of the season. A two run shot to left that put Washington up 3-2 early. We were chuckling--wondering out loud--if JimBo was sending emails to other GM's around The Majors stating--"See, we can score some runs. Harris is a perfect leadoff hitter--You need him?" "How about that "Bluegrass" doing great since returning from surgery? Let's make a deal?" Having no idea what Jim Bowden was actually doing, it was fun to think about what he MIGHT BE WRITING.
And for the record--45 Year Old Jamie Moyer can not only still pitch, but bunt. Everyone else should be able to also. Moyer is quite amazing to watch throw. Everyone knows he can barely break a pane of glass with his fastball. Everyone knows he depends on his slop pitches. And many players today, still can not hit him. Remarkable how durable and good Jamie Moyer is still today. Makes me feel good that he is only three years younger than me.
Abe won The 4th Inning Presidents Race tonight. Teddy again led early, but was no match for his fellow "Rushmores" as the foursome turned the corner at the right field foul line toward the first base dugout. At least tonight--no odd animals jumped out to tackle, punch, kick or trip up Our Lovable Loser, winless in 172 Live Presidents Races since 2006.
Before the game--Sohna and I headed over to The Main Concourse, near The Washington Suites, to pick up The Season Ticket Holder Ceramic Replica of New Nationals Park. Available to those fans who paid for their accounts in full by The December 15th, 2007 Deadline--today was the very first game the gift could be picked up--by showing a proper ID. There are many more dates over the course of the next few weeks, where qualified season ticket holders can pick up their Stadium Replica.
Sohna and I found the Replica to be OK. Nothing that says "WOW". The detail not the best. But, it's free, different and we were happy to pick ours up.
Finally, before tonight's game and leading all the way up to The National Anthem--nearly the entire bullpen for Our Washington Nationals stood down the right field line, at the first row of seats and signed autographs for a good 15 minutes. Later, after warming up Austin Kearns was joined by Ryan Langerhans to sign autographs for fans near Washington's Dugout. Nothing officially announced, just something that happened. Good for the players to spend some unscheduled time with Our Fans. Stuff like that is always appreciated.
Tonight's InGame Photos (AP)--Charles Dharapak
All Other Photos--Nats320, All Rights Reserved