Monday, March 02, 2009
Oh Yeah--There Was A Game Too!!
Many were wearing shorts, others flip flops--compare that to the blankets, winter coats snugly wrapped around others. The 54 Degree game time temperature so surprisingly low the PA Announcer actually apologized for the cold and wind--while profusely thanking the 2,635 shivering fans at Space Coast Stadium for attending. What a contrast. And when the sun poked through those dark clouds a few times throughout yesterday afternoon's game between Our Washington Nationals and The Baltimore Orioles--loud cheers broke out. This is Central Florida after all. Many here are not use to anything less than balmy weather.
Nevertheless, Our Nats & O's did play a rather entertaining game. A typical Spring Affair where the outcome didn't matter, but when Washington rallied with two scores and loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the 9th--those still left watching rose in unison to witness if Javier Valentin could keep the rally going, tie or bring the winning runs home. When he popped out to centerfield weakly to end the game--believe it or not fans actually BOOED!! The African Queen, Our Friend Tom and I started laughing. Tom saying: "Manny did the right thing. He's letting everybody get their cuts in, not managing for a win." Tom was right, but it was really funny hearing the displeasure of fans unhappy over an EXHIBITION SEASON LOSS.
Nick Johnson powered a totally wind blown home run in bottom of the 3rd. Get any ball up in the air to left center today and it was gone. NJ laughing at his round tripper as he crossed home plate and headed to Washington's first base dugout. Baltimore's top prospect Matt Wieters also skied a routine pop down the left field line that just went over the wall in top of the 6th. Another wind blown two run homer that to Wieter's credit also found him chuckling as he crossed home plate--smiling all the way to The Orioles third base dugout.
22 hits between the teams. 14 pitchers toed the mound. Three fielders were given errors. The Official Scorer was generous and could have granted a few more. Scott Olsen made his first start of the spring for Washington and pitched two shutout innings, thanks to Elijah Dukes throwing out Baltimore's Luke Scott from right field trying to score from third base on a fly out. A multiple hop toss that landed past Nick Johnson's cutoff mark between first base and the mound and ended up bouncing a good five times before landing in Wil Nieves' catcher's glove right on home plate. Luke Scott may hit the ball hard and well for The O's, but he's not the fasted runner. Scott was still out easily.
Not a gazelle which Justin Maxwell definitely is as he showed when he laid out all the way in centerfield for another drive off the bat of Scott in the 4th. A lunging to his left, dramatic scoop gloving of Luke's batted ball just off the outfield grass. Easily the defensive play of the game and good enough to get the shivering fans out of the blankets and huddled masses to give Maxwell a warm reception upon returning to the dugout.
Willie Harris started at second base. Tyler Clippard, Terrell Young and Garrett Mock struggled in their innings pitched. Saul Rivera, heading soon to play in The World Baseball Classic for Panama, pitched one inning for Washington. And Adam Dunn also announced yesterday, he will play for Team USA in the WBC.
When Our Manager Manny Acta put Number 56 into the game to replace Ryan Zimmerman, we had no idea who he was. Joel Guzman is huge. A tall, healthy looking athlete. Guzman knocked in a run on a sacrifice fly to deep centerfield, stroked another single and made two nice plays defensively at 3rd Base. Not sure if Joel Guzman has a chance to make Our Team, but you could see his potential on display at Space Coast Stadium yesterday.
Kids Day at the ballpark brought NASA out to Viera, Florida. An completely dressed astronaut greeted fans at the gate and NASA employees showed children how to use space gloves while handing out NASA mementos.
Before the game began, Sohna and I did run into Our Manager Manny Acta on a side field watching practice for those not playing in Sunday's game. Aware of the circumstances occurring surrounding the changes in Baseball Operations Front Office, Manny seemed a little down--saying "It's been a tough week." But he recovered nicely--The African Queen lifting his spirits a little. You would have to think that with Jim Bowden no longer in The General Manager's Seat, Manny now has full control over who plays, when and where. And that's got to be a good thing for Our Number 14..
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