Sunday, August 17, 2008
"It's almost comical," stated The African Queen. Our Washington Nationals were moments away from defeat--their 10th in row. A loss that would mathematically eliminate any chance for Our Team to field a winning record in 2008--with 37 games to go in The Inaugural Season of New Nationals Park.
Every single time of late--when Washington has a chance to actually turn any game around--a setback occurs. Impetus which takes away all the momentum earned and sets up that "Of Course" Moment.
Ryan Langerhans gets thrown out at the plate on a very close play in the bottom of the second inning. To the naked eye--it sure looked like Our Number 29 got his hooked foot under the tag of The Colorado Rockies Catcher Chris Iannetta. Langerhans made a perfect slide. But, Home Plate Umpire Mike Estabrook emphatically gave the out call. A signal that got Our Fans up out of their seats in protest and Our Manager Manny Acta up and out of his seat on the bench to complain about the ruling. Not seeing the replay from Our Seats in Section 218--it sure looked like Langerhans was safe. And Of Course--Estabrook was not going to reverse his call. Ryan's score would have been Our Washington Nationals second of the game--if ruled safe--giving Washington a cushion advantage. Of Course, as it turned out--this signal at the plate just hurried up the inning--as Our Starter Odalis Perez was next up and struck out to finally kill the rally.
Then, The Rox Chris Iannetta grounds a fairly routine ball to Pete Orr--today's shortstop for Our Washington Nationals. A sure easy out as Our Number 4 ranges to his left--at least until the baseball glances off Our Number 4's glove for an error. A frustrated and already not pitching well Perez, then issues a full count walk to Troy Tulowitzki and, OF COURSE, the very impressive young slugger for The Colorado Rockies, Ian Stewart, steps up next and FLAT OUT HAMMERS A THREE RUN SHOT over the right centerfield wall to give Colorado their first lead of the game. An advantage not anticipated just three batters previously.
With Washington now Down 3-1 in the bottom of the 5th--Lastings Milledge (FLAT OUT HAMMERING THE BALL--HIMSELF-- ALL DAY AND OVER THE PAST WEEK) drills an Aaron Cook fastball DEEP to left centerfield. The Rockies Outfielders, Matt Holliday and Wily Taveres, have NO CHANCE to get to the ball. A sure bases clearing double with both the speedy Emilio Bonifacio and Willie Harris running ahead of him. A possible triple to tie this game at three. Of Course--the baseball bounces on the warning track, at the wall, AND LANDS OVER THE FENCE for a Ground Rule Double. Harris must retreat to third. Milledge to second. A third run in this ballgame for Washington--cheated out by an unlucky bounce.
And Of Course--Aaron Boone would follow and strike out poorly, then Ronnie Belliard would walk to load the bases and eventually Our Fans were left simmering again--when Langerhans flied out to right--to kill another game changing rally.
These Game Changing Moments that again came Washington's Way in the bottom of the 6th. Pete Orr and Wil Nieves had greeted Colorado Reliever Matt Herges with back to back singles. Two on, nobody out, and Our Washington Nationals down just one run. And Manny made the right move. He brought the resting Ryan Zimmerman off the bench to Pinch Hit for Odalis Perez. Using Our Number 11 as the game changer--sensing this might be Washington's Final Chance to turn this game around. Our Number 14 was right.
And Colorado Manager Clint Hurdle sensed this turning tide as well, and IMMEDIATELY moved to the mound to replace Herges with hard throwing and sometimes deceptive Manuel Corpos. Neither Manager wanting to give in. And "ZIMMY" looking to hammer the baseball out of the park--for the first time since May 15th.
As it turned out, fate would settle in again. Ryan Zimmerman got the exact pitch he wanted, a fastball right over the middle of the plate--and OF COURSE--he popped out to Holliday in left. A Home Run Pitch Missed. A deflating moment, because Our Number 11 KNEW HE GOT THE PITCH HE WANTED--AND HE KNEW HE HAD FAILED. Emilio Bonifacio following with The Rally Killing Double Play.
Signaling, Of Course, that every single move this afternoon, would fail for Washington. Sadly.
Like when Our Manager Manny Acta sends out Lefty Charlie Manning to face Lefty Swinging Brad Hawpe to lead off the top of the 8th. The Perfect Match Up.
Hawpe Homers to right. Score now 4-2 Colorado.
Then, Our Number 14 immediately moves to the mound and replaces Manning with "The Human Rain Delay". Of Course, Jesus Colome hits Iannetta on the first pitch he throws, walks Stewart, then allows Pinch Hitter Seth Smith to FLAT OUT CLUB a fastball from Our Number 43--DEEP--over the right centerfield wall for the DECISIVE three run homer.
Of course--just like that this game was over. And the sight of THOUSANDS IMMEDIATELY getting up to leave--quite noticeable. Obviously, because Our Fans had realized this game was, Of Course, finished as well--even though the final out had yet to be recorded two innings from this point.
As has been the case for nearly two weeks, Our Washington Nationals continue to fail in the clutch and every single miscue comes back to haunt them. Of Course--that all means--Our Washington Nationals have now lost 10 STRAIGHT GAMES--the most in a row all season--in year of many lows. How badly do we miss Charlie Slowes SCREAMING "Another Curly 'W' Is In The Books!!".
Final Score from Gorgeous and Beautifully Sunny New Nationals Park--The Colorado Rockies 7 and Our Washington Nationals 2. Swept Again by their third straight opponent. Virtually impossible now to NOT LOSE 100 Games this season.
And Of Course--being the Fans that we are--Sohna and I stayed UNTIL THE FINAL OUT--as always. All 27 of them for Washington. We are not going to miss out on anything--no matter how good, Or Bad, Our Washington Nationals play. Because one of these days, The Team that calls The Nation's Capital its very home--will be a Good Team--A Possible Championship Team--and we want to always remember--We Stuck by Our Washington Nationals when the times were not as good. Just like today and throughout this just completed miserable 0-6 Home Stand.
Of Course those Winning Days--will be MEMORABLE DAYS--just like the poor ones The African Queen and I are experiencing right now during these most trying of times. Yeah, we know, it's comical, but Our Washington Nationals failures have yet to take away from all our fun. No--that's not going to happen--any time soon.
Game Notes & Highlights
If I could have gone out to the mound today, I would have told Odalis Perez--"THROW A STRIKE!!" Dibbling around the corners--Our Number 45 was frustrating to watch. There was this fellow sitting to the left of me in Section 218 that was a Big Baseball Fan. And an educated one. He was just exasperated with Perez. Just like myself, The African Queen, Our Manager, and just about every single one of Our Fans. I am sorry, there is no personal ill will toward Odalis Perez. I just don't see any further reason to have him on this particular poorly performing team.
The same for Jesus Colome. "The Human Rain Delay" adds little to our team these days. Everything he throws is the same speed. Every single hitter facing him, knows that. Remember, early in 2007, Colome couldn't throw 100% and he learned how to mix up his pitches. He finally understood, for the first time in his career--how control and off setting velocities can HELP HIM. There was this one night at RFK STADIUM where Colome struck out Chipper Jones on arguably the greatest looping, sinker, off speed pitch, he had EVER THROWN IN HIS LIFE. Jones swung and missed so badly that after he struck out--Chipper stood at home plate staring at Colome--IN DISBELIEF!! At that point in time, there was a revelation--that Jesus Colome might have finally become A REAL PITCHER. A GREAT MOMENT--never to be forgotten by me. Colome was a Phenomenon at that time--nearly Our All Star Selection in 2007. He was so deserving. Then, an unexpected surgery to his rear end--changed his season and ultimately his career changing year--became a disappointment. He's never been the same since. Our Number 43 has now lost all of his learned knowledge of early 2007. How sad, but true. Because for three months last year--Jesus Colome was A GREAT FIND--A Keeper for Our Future. But, no longer.
I have no problem seeing as many of Our Youngsters as possible getting their opportunities come September, if not this coming Tuesday. Far more interesting seeing YOUTH hustling and wanting to be there, instead of Veterans just taking home a paycheck.
Enthusiasm which Lastings Milledge is bringing to the park every day of late. Our Number 44 a far different player in performance and attitude since the early days of April & May, 2008. Still, Milledge SHOULD BE A CORNER OUTFIELDER, and he has his moments of despair--but Lastings has slowly changed my opinion of his skills. He seems to care now and less about his Off Field and Behavior Puffery. That pleases us--TREMENDOUSLY. Good for him. At least Lastings Milledge is making the effort.
Caring--which Willie Harris bring to the ballpark every single day. Has there been a better Veteran Influence on Our Youth more than Our Number 1? Harris comes prepared, today two more hits. He runs out everything and NEVER GIVES UP. Willie Harris may never have a prosperous career with Our Washington Nationals, but hopefully, some other Winning Major League Team will see his effort and reward him with the opportunity to succeed on a grand scale. That man is a late bloomer. Sohna loved him since day one. And she was right. Harris can play.
Again to honor The 2008 Summer Olympics--Our Racing Presidents ran a HURDLE Relay Race. Now, having personally run the race twice in 2006 and 2007 as ABE and GW, you have to give THESE ATHLETES serious credit for jumping the hurdles set up today by Race Coordinator Tom Davis on the outfield warning track. Those heads are HEAVY, HUGE, and quite UNBALANCED. The very fact that all four Rushmores completed the race without falling was mighty impressive. Of course--ABE WON AGAIN, Teddy Finished Second. Nice adaptation of a current event.
There is a very interesting promotion coming to New Nationals Park on August 31st when Our Washington Nationals play The Atlanta Braves. Any Adult purchasing ANY TICKET VALUED AT $33 or ABOVE can bring along two kids (12 Years of Age or Younger) for just $1 A Piece. We are talking $35 for three good seats to that Sunday Game against The Bravos. That's a good deal.
Finally--I was not surprised to see Luis Ayala traded. He had never been the same since foolishly pitching in The World Baseball Classic for his home country Mexico in 2006, and seriously hurting himself, just a few short months after elbow surgery for Washington. Thanks to pressure from Former Washington Nationals Vinny Castilla and Esteban Loiza, Our Former Number 56 made the incorrect decision--and sadly--it transformed his career for the worse. Before late 2005--Luis Ayala was one of the best setup men in the game. A terrific slider, at times, untouchable. A perfect compliment to Chad Cordero.
I have always liked Luis Ayala and I always will. He has always been kind and gracious to The African Queen. Ayala really digged her--enjoyed talking with her. Our Now Former Number 56 stopped and talked with her--every single time he ran into Sohna. And I always appreciated that. We only wish he could have had continued his success in a uniform representing Our Washington Nationals. Today, not surprisingly, he was traded to The New York Mets for infielder Anderson Hernandez. Being a betting man, Our Former Starting Catcher, Brian Schneider, will find a way to harness some good out of Luis Ayala in New York. They were quite the pairing in Montreal and Washington.
No--we did not know him well, but he was always Our Friend. Sohna and I can only wish him the best. Luis Ayala is a fine young man. We always enjoyed his efforts for Our Washington Nationals. He cared, but as of late, just could not do the job. Good Luck, Luis--may your career resurrect itself.
Today's InGame Photos--(AP) Nick Wass
Luis Ayala Photo--(AP) John Rauox
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved