Friday, April 24, 2009
Jesus Flores has just cranked out a homer in the top of the 9th inning off Francisco Rodriguez. A two run shot with nobody out that puts Our Washington Nationals within striking distance of tying this game up against The New York Mets. K-Rod is in trouble ahead now only 4-3. But after Alberto Gonzalez lines out to center, Our Manager Manny Acta sends Alex Cintron to pinch hit for Pitcher Kip Wells.
This is the 9th Inning.
At this point in the game, it's important to make every effort to get even. In a game where there is no clock, time was running out.
Score One Run. Because if you don't--GAME OVER.
Anderson Hernandez is the scheduled hitter after Cintron. Not a power hitter, an infielder also slumping at the plate.
So unless you get lucky, the worst hitter on your team--Cintron--is not the man to have come to the plate under this circumstance.
Veteran Experience in Ronnie Belliard is sitting on the bench.
Youthful and powerful Justin Maxwell is sitting on the bench.
Both, better choices to pinch hit with one out in the 9th, down one run.
Not Alex Cintron.
Why? Really Why?
We don't understand that move. We really don't.
And it's a shame this game ended in such a poor way, because Scott Olsen fought, and fought and fought his way through six tough innings. Tonight at New Citi Field, Our Number 19 showed some of that bulldog spirit which he portrayed during his Florida Marlin years. He was impressive. Far from perfect, in trouble every inning, yet he battled the entire way. Olsen earned some deserved respect in Queens from The Mets lineup. Appreciation which Our Batters will never earn until they more consistently plate runners in scoring position. Like the same old story, told over and over again--Our Washington Nationals spoiling their winning chances when they again left runners in scoring position.
Case in point.
Facing arguably the best pitcher in the game, Johan Santana came out of the gate throwing hard tonight, firing strike after strike, looking sharp and mowing down 10 Washington hitters before he tired in the 6th. The very inning when DC's team had their opportunity to get back into this affair and BEAT HIM. Johan was faltering--ripe for the taking.
And Our Washington Nationals COULD NOT get the big hit.
The 2-3-4 hitters were doing their jobs. The 5-6-7 hitters could barely even get their bats on the ball.
Despite a terrific Nick Johnson lined opposite field homer directly down the left field line for his first Round Tripper since May, 2008--a Ryan Zimmerman walk and Adam Dunn single--all with no outs in this important 6th frame--the next three hitters in our lineup could not get them home. Elijah Dukes flailing at everything Santana threw him--striking out for the 3rd time this evening. Austin Kearns going down swinging for his second time this evening. And Jesus Flores barely getting his bat on Santana's last of 104 pitches thrown in this game--meekly popping to end the threat.
All three looked overmatched.
Understanding Johan Santana is an exceptional talent, he was still in trouble. Yet Number 57 wearing White/Blue & Orange was able to reach back and find that extra effort to survive. Looking to wreak havoc, Our Washington Nationals couldn't muster even a simple base hit. The game changing moment was at hand.
And Washington Failed Again.
Which brings this post back full circle to the top of the 9th when Alex Cintron was sent to the plate to pinch hit for Kip Wells. That's not stepping up, or even close to wreaking havoc. But what's very true was, like Johan Santana in the 6th, Francisco Rodriguez was also ripe for the taking in the 9th. Our Washington Nationals didn't fully take advantage of that opportunity as well.
Alex Cintron? He's not even going to be on the 25 Man Roster in two weeks when Cristian Guzman and Willie Harris are activated from The Disabled List. He's Our 25th Man. That decision to bat him still makes no sense. None whatsover.
Final Score from New Citi Field where that new ballpark is downright weird (especially the location of the visiting bullpen)--The New York Mets 4 and Our Washington Nationals 3. Of course it didn't help that for the second consecutive game the eventual winning run was scored on a base loaded walk. A major infraction committed again by a Washington Pitcher. This time by Kip Wells.
Game Notes & Highlights
You have to respect Scott Olsen's effort tonight. He single handedly kept Our Washington Nationals in this game for six innings. And he wasn't helped when Elijah Dukes couldn't get to/maybe misplayed a liner to center off the bat of Carlos Beltran in the 3rd that scored the first run of the evening. He wasn't helped when Austin Kearns had to dive twice in the same 6th inning for flies hit by Fernando Tatis and Daniel Murphy. The first belly flop and resultant triple by Fernando Tatis was a good effort by Kearns in which he simply could not reach. But he could have just cut it off and let Fernando get a single. Then Murphy's RBI single a few moments later deflected off Austin's glove. It was a difficult catch, but Our Number 25 should have had it. Olsen dodged trouble all night long. He really pitched well with his back against the wall.
Never heard of The Mets reliever Bobby Parnell who replaced Johan Santana tonight in the 7th inning. But that young man throws smoke--reaching 96 MPH on his fastball--with some great late action. He was sharp. One rising fastball thrown past Josh Willingham was UNHITTABLE. No one was going to get a bat around on that pitch. No one.
Austin Kearns did make a nice running over the shoulder catch to this new deeper area of right field at Citi Field. An extra 20 feet or more of outfield that runs between the home run wall down the right field line and right centerfield. A cutout that allowed Kearns to track an absolute blast off the bat of David Wright in the bottom of the 7th that saved Jason Bergmann from an even worse outing than he eventually had. A home run in most any Major League Park, this opposite field shot was merely a fly out. I don't like it when these new stadiums put in gimmicks just to be different. The Short Leftfield Crawford Boxes in Houston are another good example--too many cheap home runs allowed at Minute Maid Park. Just let the players play ball--don't give anyone an added advantage just to be cute. Corners in the walls--fine--but not stupid stuff like this right field extended outfield.
Bergmann walking the bases loaded in his first appearance since his recall from AAA Syracuse. He looked uncomfortable and downright pissed when Manny came to take him out of the game. The same emotions Kip Wells showed after he saved Bergmann from any damage, but then fell apart in the 8th, giving up the bases loaded walk. A GIFT RUN that proved to be The Winning Run.
Finally, Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler mentioned on WFED tonight they had some serious issues with how Citi Field is set up for broadcasting. Their booth, located slightly down the first base line (same as Shea Stadium was), is situated so fans now sitting in front of them can stand up and block their view of the game. Additionally, as also shown on MASN, The Visiting Bullpen is placed behind The Mets Bullpen in rightfield. It's virtually impossible to see who is warming up for the visiting team--whether on TV or from The Radio Booth. The Mets Bullpen blocks it. The Visiting Bullpen is set up so The Visitors, in this case Washington's Players, have to look through two sets of fences to even watch the game. When Manny came out to bring in Kip Wells in the 7th, no one knew exactly which pitcher he was summoning to the mound.
At one point, not knowing who was warming up for Washington, Charlie and Dave joked they needed a spy in the rightfield stands at Citi Field to let them know. A volunteer position that included Charlie pondering if Agent 99 should be dispatched for duty. She could call him on the shoe phone!! Watching and listening in our home, Agent 99 chuckled at their reference, and proclaimed she was ready for the assignment.
As Charlie mentioned tonight: Like who exactly made these final decisions for placements at New Citi Field? Anyone that has ever been involved in the game of baseball?
Tonight's InGame Photo--Julie Jacobson (AP)