Thursday, August 14, 2008
Effort & Execution
Playing short rightfield, Emilio Bonifacio raced over to his left to retrieve a hard hit grounder by Carlos Delgado. The New York Mets supposed pull hitter had whacked this latest Joel Hanrahan pitch with two outs and bases loaded in a mostly already decided ball game. Our Number 7's hustle, his effort, was there. He picked up the ball without any problems. But, as it turned out--his execution had failed.
Down 7-3 at this point in the top of the 9th inning at New Nationals Park--Emilio deftly moved over and scooped up the baseball with his glove and calmly threw to Aaron Boone at First Base--BUT MISSED OUR NUMBER 8 by a good foot. It wasn't even close. The ball sailing to Boone's left. An error of simple execution that had The African Queen and I dropping our heads in dismay.
Two more New York Mets runs scored bringing The New York Faithful up on their feet, standing and cheering over the latest mistake by Our Washington Nationals this evening at New Nationals Park. And Our Fans, at least those still remaining on South Capitol Street, trying to salvage something out of what was sure to be another discouraging defeat.
Washington's 7th in a row. August, which began so brightly with a revamped squad--now seen struggling as much as the past months of this 2008 Season.
All night long--Our Team, The one that calls DC's it's very home--made the physical effort on the field of play. What they continually failed to do--was execute.
Emilio Bonifacio's gaffe had just put the icing on the cake.
Inexperience always shows itself--under pressure. And Our Washington Nationals displayed plenty of that tonight.
Our Starter Collin Balester--all of 22 Years Old--could not get past The New York Mets--the second time around he faced them in the batting order. He couldn't locate most every pitch in his arsenal. And a good hitting team, which The Mets are, are going to take advantage of every mistake. Even Brian Schneider--Our Former Captain--who flat out HAMMERED a fastball by Our Number 40 to deep centerfield for a two run shot in the top of the 5th inning. A Home Run by Our Former Number 23 that went along way, not only in distance, but in explaining how much farther Collin Balester must come to be a quality Major League Starter.
Schneider has handled Balester before--behind the plate. And Brian knows what Collin can do. Our Former Starting Catcher realized Our Number 40 has yet to learn how to survive in The Big Leagues. That takes time and more setbacks, like the very one Balester experienced tonight. For three innings--he did well. But once The New York Mets batted around the first time--Collin had no answer for their adjustments.
A key double given up to the very good David Wright directly led to two runs for New York in the 4th. Schneider's blast in the 5th added two more. And Carlos Delgado--he of the ultimate pull hitting swing--LAUNCHED an opposite field blast over the left field wall in the top of the 6th off Balester. A drive that Willie Harris make A GREAT ATTEMPT to catch. Our Number 1 CLIMBING THE WALL--his spikes taking him above the Double "XX's" in The EXXON MOBIL SIGN. But Harris' effort could not overcome Collin's Pitch Performance.
One again--effort was there--but the execution had failed.
A theory played out all night long.
When Our Washington Nationals finally fought back into this game--with a three run 7th--they did so by getting the job done. A single here, a walk there and a pinch hit triple by Pinch Hitter Pete Orr. An unexpected blast off the right field wall scoreboard that brought New Nationals Park alive for the first real time tonight. And had the 31,058, some of whom were actually cheering for Our Washington Nationals--on their feet in great surprise and joy. Applause that turned to hope when Bonifacio laid down a pretty good bunt toward the slow moving and poor fielding Delgado manning first base for New York. An eventual infield single executed perfectly--scoring Orr with Our Washington Nationals 3rd run of the game. And putting The Mets on notice that this game was not over yet.
At least not until Our Team placed runners on 1st and 2nd with one out in the bottom of the 8th. Already, Washington had ran The Mets Starter-lefthander Oliver Perez from the game in the previous frame. Now, side arm throwing Joe Smith was on the mound. The same Joe Smith who had made Lastings Milledge look silly, batting against him just two nights ago. This evening, Our Number 44 learned from his clueless strike out swings of Tuesday against this pitcher--and professionally walked on seven pitches. An good effort that Austin Kearns followed by doing the same.
The New York Mets were in trouble. Our Washington Nationals had understood how to bat against a side arm/under hand throwing pitcher. And The Mets Manager Jerry Manuel rightfully decided he needed a fresh face to confuse Our Batting Order--once again. He chose wisely by calling for one time hard throwing, but now junk ball pitching (thanks to injury) Duaner Sanchez. A few years back, Sanchez was one of the hottest young pitchers in the game. A rising star with The Los Angeles Dodgers--but eventually traded to The Mets--where he threw out his shoulder and has never been the same power pitcher since.
Throwing mostly off speed and nothing reaching more than the low 90's, Sanchez was able to get kill Our Washington Nationals rally. Thanks to the very fact Our Batters did not adjust to the pitcher or his pitches at hand. Aaron Boone would strike out--awfully--on a change up so slow--Boone could have possibly swung twice at the offering. And Wil Nieves would ground out to David Wright at third base to end, what just two batters previously, was Washington's Final Chance to get back into this game.
Instead--once again--the execution had failed and Our Washington Nationals were going down to defeat. Yes, the top of the 9th Inning was nothing more than frustrating to watch. Joel Hanrahan trotted out in a 5-3 ball game and looked lost on the mound. Eventually giving up four more runs--thanks to Bonifacio's mental throwing mistake. But showing--that The Team That Calls The Nation's Capital it's home--has so many inexperienced players on the field--nothing short of a PERFECTLY PLAYED BALLGAME will bring a victory home.
Final Score after a disappointing three game home sweep at the hands of The Boys From Queens--The New York Mets 9 and Our Washington Nationals 3. Our Team had again made the effort, but time after time--they could not execute--successfully. Loss Number 78 of 2008 looked a whole lot like many of the previous defeats this season--sadly.
Game Notes & Highlights
He may well have lasted six innings, but Collin Balester really couldn't find the plate. Giving up more walks (5) to hits (4), he might have been a little lucky. But then again--he might well have learned something too--about pitching from behind, without your best command.
As rough of a start that Our Number 40 experienced this evening--Joel Hanrahan was much worse. From the moment he threw his first pitch, in basically a mop up role in the 9th, Our Number 38 DID NOT HAVE IT. Thanks to Bonifacio's late miscue--Hanrahan would record the 3rd out of the inning--but not before giving up 4 additional runs on 4 hits and that key error. Joel Hanrahan looked lost. Which made The African Queen ponder how much we miss "The Chief". Chad Cordero certainly had his moments in a Washington Uniform late in games--but at least "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" delivered most of the time. Our Number 38 does not give off such a good vibe--at least not yet--his pitches are all over the place.
In the top of the 8th inning--David Wright would lace a fast dropping liner to right centerfield. Lastings Milledge would get a good jump on the baseball, run to his left, slightly in on the grass, then dive at the very last moment, his left glove hand extended to catch the baseball--a split second before it hit the ground. 2B Umpire Rob Drake with the flamboyant "OUT" call for Our Number 44's nice catch. The Defensive Play of This Game.
Returning from The Disabled List--Aaron Boone also made a nice play on a smash down the right field line by Brian Schneider in the top of the 6th. With the hit baseball about to go past him, Our Number 8 dove to his left and caught the ball in his glove--DIRECTLY ON TOP OF FIRST BASE--to record the final out the frame. A nice effort--worth mentioning.
The Funny Moment Of The Night. When The New York Mets sent Aaron Heilman to the mound for mop up duty in the bottom of the 9th inning, the majority of New York Fans still in attendance ACTUALLY BOOED HIM--pretty unmercifully. You had to laugh how New Yorker's are just unforgiving. What a tough market to play sports.
Nick Johnson was in the house tonight. Sitting in Our Washington Nationals Dugout--in uniform. Must be here for a checkup on his surgically repaired wrist.
Presidents Club looked like a Sellout Tonight. Not many empty seats throughout the first seven innings of the game. I don't recall seeing so many on hand there all year.
Teddy lost again tonight in The Presidents Race. Leading early, ABE, now winner of 35 races this season--came from behind to win handily. It was not much of a competition.
The Taxi Stand at New Nationals Park has moved again--for the third time this year. Now--patrons wishing to hail a taxi for a ride home after any game--must exit the Center Field Gate, turn left and take your first right turn onto Van Street. Van Street runs north and south, between N Street, SE and M Street, SE.
Thursday Night was Party Night at New Nationals Park--In the Stars and Stripes Club. The Patron Tequila Folks were on hand near The Homestead Grays Bar (perfectly located by Our Seats in Section 218) with Four Tequila Samples and Pyrat Rum. Good Stuff, and quite the atmosphere. Included was a special drawing. Drop your business card into the fish bowl and enter to receive a Manny Acta Autographed Jersey. Pyrat Rum--HIGHLY RECOMMENDED--by just about anyone that sampled it. This was the third tasting this year. Earlier, there was a wine tasting and also a rum tasting.
Finally--The African Queen got the evening started by attending the second and last Ladies Night of 2008. Nearly 1000 women signed up and attended a special party on the Roof Top Party Deck of Garage B. Included in your price of admission to the ball game, was Wine Tastings, Beer Samplings, Tons of Food, Dancing, Plenty of Vendors selling their wares and a special appearance by Lastings Milledge and Willie Harris from Our Washington Nationals--who both brought the house down with an impromptu dance on the dance floor. THIS WAS TERRIFIC!!
Much more coming later on this very nice event. For $30 Bucks Ladies Night is a terrific deal. Three times Our Washington Nationals have now hosted this evening get together. And each time it gets better and better.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Nick Wass
All Other Photos--Nats320 (All Rights Reserved)