Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Manny had never been so agitated in his two years as Our Manager. Yes, that's right, Manny Acta was giving Home Plate Umpire Rob Drake the business. Raising his left arm HIGH ABOVE his head. A motion to signal that he well believed that Saul Rivera's just thrown high pitch HAD NOT glanced off The New York Mets' Damian Easley's Helmet, but instead had bounced off his bat.
Important for one very good reason.
Because when Umpire Drake ruled Hit By Pitch-David Wright came trotting home from third base with the go ahead run in the top of the 8th inning for New York. A crucial error. A set back that sent Manny into a Tizzy. Was Our Number 14 ever pissed!! Yelling and screaming into Drake's Face. Something NEVER WITNESSED BEFORE by Our Fans. Yet, incredibly, Acta did not get tossed. Not even after continuing his argument with First Base Umpire--Mike Reilly--The Crew Chief.
Manny wasn't giving in. And he wasn't letting up. And everyone on hand watching--was getting into this spectacle.
A moment never seen before at New Nationals Park. Maybe--it was about time Acta got mad.
Of course--The Umpires weren't giving in as well, and they weren't letting Our Manager's words change their opinions.
As the announced crowd of 32,186 rose to their feet watching, The Washington Fans were cheering on Manny's unexpected outburst. New York Fans were cheering The Mets Good Fortune. And every single TV monitor in the entire viewing area for fans--went blank. This expected for a controversial call. But what was strange to see was the blackout that took place inside Andrew's Suite on the 3rd Base Side of New Nationals Park. Visiting with Our Friend Tonight, we were all sort of stunned that The MASN Broadcast was taken away even there. Usually, in the suites--all the plays are shown--even the controversial ones.
So, The African Queen, Andrew, all his invited guests and I had no real idea whether Our Number 14's complaints rang true. But, what was clear as Manny Acta slowly walked off the field--STILL YELLING AT CREW CHIEF REILLY (so much so, for the briefest of instances it appeared The First Base Umpire was THAT CLOSE to tossing him from the game)--was that Our Washington Nationals were in hole--of their own doing--and no turning of an arbiters decision was going to help them tonight.
This top of the 8th inning had started as a tie game--three apeice, but Saul Rivera had quickly gotten himself in a big hole--when he allowed consecutive singles to David Wright and Carlos Beltran with no outs, then walked Fernando Tatis after striking out Carlos Delgado. Our Number 52 was struggling again, with the game on the line and it was about time to get someone up in Our Bullpen to bail him out.
No One from Our Washington Nationals came to Saul's Assistance.
And The Umpires were not going to assist Rivera either. The Hit-By-Pitch Stood and, as it turned out became The Game Winning Run.
Once again, Our Washington Nationals had tormented themselves. Lost another winnable ball game because when most all the crucial moments came tonight--they squandered their chances.
More cases in point.
In the top of the 3rd--with Wright on 2nd base with a two out double--the switch hitting and dangerous Carlos Beltran was stepping to the plate to bat righthanded against lefthanded throwing Odalis Perez, Our Starter this evening. With the lefty swinging Carlos Delgado scheduled next for The Mets--why pitch to Beltran, especially after falling behind 3-0 in the count? Beltran was looking for something to drive. Delgado would have been a better choice to pitch to--under the circumstances. As it turned out--Carlos Betran would smack a double down the leftfield line scoring Wright with New York's third run of the evening. An avoidable score--if Washington had pitched to the percentages--played the odds. There were two outs. Why not pitch to our advantage, not theirs?
Later, in the bottom of the 6th, Lastings Milledge bunted for a base hit just down the first base line from home plate. The Mets Catcher Ramon Castro pounced on the ball--and with Our Number 44 running directly toward first and slightly in on the dirt path--Castro rushed his throw and threw down the right field line--past a diving Delgado covering. A ruled single and error that sent Milledge to second base with NO BODY OUT. Then, inexplicably, Our Washington Nationals TOP RBI MAN--Jesus Flores--BUNTED. Yes, BUNTED!! with a fast runner in scoring position against Johan Santana--New York's Ace.
Why in the world did Our Number 3 attempt a bunt? A bad one as it turned out. The hit ball dribbling right back to Santana on the mound--who quickly threw Flores out at first base--giving Lastings no chance to scurry to third base. A waste of an out. A giving up of Our Top RBI Guy. If that signal to bunt came from Our Dugout--there is something wrong. There is no excuse for Jesus Flores to be bunting in that situation with the tying run already in scoring position with Washington down one run.
None, whatsoever. Johan Santana was in trouble--why make it easier for him?
And finally, down 4-3 to The Mets after Damian Easley was hit to score Wright in the controversial call of this game--Milledge and Flores stepped to the plate against side arm throwing Joe Smith in the bottom of the 8th and proceeded to swing at every single off speed pitch thrown by the big righthander. With Austin Kearns on first with no one out--Our Numbers 44 and 3 waved at Smith's slop. They had no chance to get a hit, because they had no idea how to face Smith's natural upshoot on all his pitches.
Just like that--any last momentum was wasted, and Our Washington Nationals had absorbed another loss--their fifth in a row--and 76th of 2008.
Final Score on one of the nicest August Summer Nights (Weather wise) you may ever spend at New Nationals Park--The New York Mets 4 and Our Washington Nationals 3. A close game lost--because Washington squandered every good chance. Even after Our Manager Manny Acta SHOCKED EVERYONE with an emotional display, so rare, you HAD TO BELIEVE he was right in his argument. Whether he was or not--I have no idea. But, his blowup was good to see.
Game Notes & Highlights
Odalis Perez just sort of hung in there tonight. But he did give up all three of his earned runs with two outs. New York scoring their first two runs in the 1st when Beltran doubled down the line scoring Nick Evans (who had singled) and Delgado flared one to center scoring Beltran. Perez would allow his third run of the evening on Beltran's Two Out Double in the 3rd, when Odalis should have intentionally walked Their Number 15 to reach Delgado.
Of course Our Number 45 was saved BIG TIME in the top of the third--moments before Beltran knocked in David Wright with that third run. Jose Reyes had led off the top of the 3rd with an infield single. A dribbler that Odalis poorly played and rushed a backhand toss to first. A play where Perez had more time than he believed to complete the play. Safe, nonetheless, New York's Leftfielder Nick Evans would then step to the plate and DRILL A DEEP LINER over the head of Willie Harris in leftfield. Running hard toward the warning track, near The EXXON MOBIL Sign on the green padded wall--Our Number 1 leaped at the very last possible second with his left hand, his glove hand, and SNARED THE BASEBALL just inside the padded portion of his mitt. While stumbling, but not falling down, Willie Harris had the moxie to quickly turn and throw a good toss to Emilio Bonifacio cutting the baseball off just behind second base in the outfield grass. Jose Reyes was running on the play and despite his speed, had no chance to return safely to first base. A Willie Harris to Emilio Bonifacio to Ronnie Belliard combination had produced a miraculous Double Play and easily The Defensive Play of The Game. In fact, one of the best of this season. And for Our Number 1, once again, this effort made him a DEFENSIVE STAR.
You have to appreciate the hustle Willie Harris brings to the ballpark Every Single Game. Every Single Day.
Jose Reyes would also be robbed on a sure double by Ryan Zimmerman in the top of the 9th--when he slapped a laser down the leftfield line. Our Number 11, showing his catlike reflexes--quickly down to his right and caught the baseball, moments before it hit the ground and scooted past him--for the out.
Washington would score their first two runs of the evening in the bottom of the 1st when "The Guz" doubled down the leftfield line, Zimmerman followed with a liner to center for a single--scoring Cristian Guzman. Austin Kearns followed with a single of his own and Jesus Flores--one out later--would produce his 52nd RBI of the year with his own single to center, scoring The "Z" Man.
Ryan Langerhans tied this game up in the bottom of the 7th in unexpected fashion. Facing the hard throwing and lefthanded Santana, Lefthanded swinging Langerhans JACKED OUT his first home run of 2008 in style with a shot over the rightfield scoreboard wall that set off the fireworks, and at least temporarily, got Washington's Fans back into this game. New York Mets Faithful providing the majority of the noise tonight on South Capitol Street.
Since leaving Denver last Thursday, Emilio Bonifacio has gone Hitless in every game since. As talented as he is, Our New Number 7 (And he changed his number tonight from Number 6) needs to work on hitting the off speed stuff. Emilio chases too many pitches out of the strike zone--getting himself out--on the pitcher's pitch.
As The Relievers for Our Washington Nationals walked to the bullpen before tonight's game--Rookie Steven Shell was sporting a very nifty PINK BACKPACK. He may have been wearing this for some time, but I have never noticed it before. Must be some sort of Rookie Hazing by The Pitchers.
On Teddy Tee-Shirt Tuesday, The African Queen and I stopped by to greet Our Lovable Loser before the game and share race tactics with him. Chatting "Let Teddy Win!!" to spur Teddy on--we apparently had no effect on Our 26th President. During tonight's 4th Inning Presidents Race, Teddy came out--storming into the lead--had the race won--but first got distracted by fans waving his tee-shirts, then turned around and noticed that Large Cat had returned, once again, from previous engagements this year. When Teddy saw The Cat take out Tom at the right field corner--Teddy backtracked and barreled into the cat--losing the race--to Abe.
Teddy 0 for 177 Lifetime in The Presidents Race.
Finally, it was quite the night in Andrew's Suite at New Nationals Park. Always the gracious host, not only was "Doc" Walker in attendance in a Full House, but so were some young ladies from The Washington Glory.
Four Players from Washington's Professional Softball Team. The Defending League Champs. On hand--Team Manager Lauren Person, Pitcher Desiree Serrano 2007 NPF Pitcher of The Year, Infielder Jessica Dignon and Pitcher Taryne Mowatt--Former All American and Most Outstanding Player, 2007 ESPY Award Winner for Best Female Athlete and Best Female College Athlete.
And of course--Sohna and I can't forget Marc--who just moved into the area from Sarasota, Florida. He and The African Queen hit it off well.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Luis M. Alvarez
All Other Photos--Nats320